☷Idaho Air National Guard pilot a trailblazer for women
National Guard ( By Press Release office)
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BOISE , Idaho – Twenty - nine years ago , Defense Secretary Les Aspin made an announcement that would change the future of women in the military . Lt . Col . Jennifer Ovanek , an A - 10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the Idaho Air National Guard’s 190th Fighter Squadron , was 16 that April and one of the many young girls watching history unfold . “It was really big news , ” Ovanek said . “Women were allowed to fly in combat , finally . I remember watching it on TV . It changed my life . ”Ovanek started her love of aviation when she was very young . Her father was an A - 7 Corsair II and F - 16 Fighting Falcon pilot in the U . S . Air Force and New Mexico Air National Guard . He took Ovanek on her first flight when she was just 2 days old , and he eventually taught her how to fly . “I always wanted to fly the A - 10; it was my dream aircraft in my dream location , ” Ovanek said . At first , women were not welcomed into the fighter pilot community , she recalled . “I had to be 25% better than the men in order to get the same recognition to the same level as the men , ” said Ovanek . “I wasn’t really accepted until after I dropped bombs in combat , and after that , it changed . Then it started incrementally changing for the rest of my career . ”There were 3 , 655 Air Force Active Duty and Air National Guard officers , lieutenant colonel and below , with a fighter pilot aeronautical rating as of March 31 , according to Air Force data . Of those , 119 , or 3 . 26% , were women . There were 17 , 038 with a pilot aeronautical rating , 7 . 34% women . “Nowadays , it’s much more accepted , ” said Ovanek . “If you can see her , you can be her . ”When Ovanek speaks of her trials to the newer pilots , it’s a foreign concept to them . “They are absolutely shocked that I would get treated like that , ” said Ovanek . “Because to them , it wasn’t weird . It was normal that women could do anything they wanted to do . ”For 29 years , female fighter pilots have met their trials head - on . Today , women continue to strengthen and diversify the Air National Guard , thanks to the trailblazers that came before them .
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