This I Believe

Mathew - Palm Desert, California
Entered on June 1, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: equality
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I Believe There Should Be More Female Combat Pilots

Up until 5 years ago, although sufficiently trained and qualified, women were not permitted to fly military planes in combat situations. Why shouldn’t the military let woman fight in a combat aircraft if they are just as equal as or even better than the surrounding male pilots? For over 15 years my mother has been in the field of professional pilots which is clearly dominated by men. It was always uncomfortable for her being the only girl in all of her training courses or to even deal with the sexist comments made saying she could never be as good of a pilot as a man. But exactly 4 months ago I became just another victim of this sad, but true reality, when I began working for my private pilot’s license as well. She and other female pilots have inspired me to take a stand on the subject. Of course it’s typical for the decision makers to feel that men are better than women, or that men are stronger, or smarter, or faster. That may be true in certain situations and aspects of life, but in the field of being a professional pilot, I think not. Women should have the right to be in combat flight if they are eligible, regardless of the fact that they are women.

The one simple question, “Why?”, began circulating and generating thoughts in my head about all of the brave, heroic and amazing female pilots that there have been throughout history and even today. On June 1, 1937, Amelia Earhart was the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic, traveling from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hours, and the first person to fly the stretch from the Red Sea to India. In 1941 Jacqueline Cochran approached the U.S. Army Air Corps and created the idea of using women as ferry pilots in wartime after being aware of the Nazi threat to Europe. Also because they needed more men to fight combat on foot, Ms. Cochran began to train large groups of women to pilot the combat planes to and from stations. She became one of the most famous female pilots in the U.S. In 1944, Hanna Reitsch became the first test pilot for the Messerschmitt 163, where she flew up to 500 MPH until she spun out of control and crash landed. She managed to write out a full report before losing consciousness, and was awarded the Iron Cross, First Flight. Also in 1944 Ruth Martin Jeffords volunteered with the Red Cross Motor Corps, helping to fly, teach and cover the lights in Anchorage, Alaska to avoid bombing raids by the enemy in World War II. Just last year she became one of the few to receive the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, an honor created by the FAA to honor pilots who have flown safely for at least 50 years.

Clearly women have been apart of not only aviation but serving in war and combat situations through aviation for years. Even though there are less than 100 women in the U.S. combat aviation system today, and even fewer in other countries, we as women are entitled to possess equal rights to men. If women are as qualified for combat as men, they should be assigned to combat pilot positions, no question. Clearly women are just as brave, possess good judgment and are equally qualified as men, as history shows.