Barksdale Air Force Base launched two B-52s with all-female crews March 22 to honor Women’s History Month. According to the U.S. Census Bureau women make up 19 percent of the Air Force, the highest of any service. On Jan. 4, the Air Force began recruiting women into previously-closed career fields and positions. “Many people think the military is not a place for social experimentation. In many instances I disagree,” said Col. Bruce Cox, 307th Bomb Wing commander. “The military led the way for desegregation, equal pay and now leads the way for women affording equal opportunities in the work place.
"My first flight in a B-52, on May 12, 2003, was an eye-opening experience. It was like driving a bus,” Maj. Heather Decker, 93rd Bomb Squadron told Master Sgt. Dachelle Melville of the 307th Bomb Wing in a recent story. "It's more challenging than most airplanes. It's very mechanical, and you have to move it around physically.” Decker was the first female Reserve pilot to qualify in the B-52 more than a decade ago. (photo below)
The crew chiefs that prepared and launched the planes were also all women. “This is where I belong. This is what I know I am supposed to be doing with my life,” said Senior Airman Rachel Upshaw crew chief 707th Maintenance Squadron. “Being a crew chief is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs… with its awesome history.” (photo below)
Staff Sgt. Belinda Thoreson crew chief 707th Maintenance Squadron said, “It’s okay to do things as a woman. Don’t let anyone pressure you into being anything different (than yourself), follow your dreams and sometimes the most unexpected things can bring you the most joy and reward.” (photo below)
(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Greg Steele/Released)