Women’s History Month

Women Airforce Service Pilot Marty Wyall, Sgt. Vanessa Sheffield, Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron Pilot Betty Gillies and Air Force Thunderbird Pilot Maj. Nicole Malachowski show the accomplishments of women serving in the Air Force. (Photo illustration/Virginia Reyes)

Starting in 1987 the Women’s History Month Project petitioned Congress to recognize the entire month of March as Women’s History Month. Since then, presidents have issued proclamations every year to encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities, and to remember throughout the year the many contributions of courageous women who have made this nation strong.

Air Force women who have made a difference include Women Air Force Service Pilot Marty Wyall, Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron Pilot Betty Gillies; Sgt. Vanessa Sheffield, a C-130 Hercules maintainer back in the ’70s; and Air Force Thunderbird Pilot Maj. Nicole Malachowski.

Thousands of women have helped make this the greatest Air Force in the world.

Other highlights:

  • Staff Sgt. Esther Blake was the “first woman in the Air Force.” She enlisted in the first minute of the first hour of the first day regular Air Force duty was authorized for women on July 8, 1948.
  • The first woman navigator candidates report to Mather AFB, Calif., to begin undergraduate navigator training on March 10, 1977.
  • Jane Leslie Holley became the first woman commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program on March 17, 1971. She graduated from Auburn University in Alabama.
  • Capt. Sandra M. Scott, a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, became the first woman tanker commander to perform alert duty for Strategic Air Command, March 23, 1978.
  • An all-woman crew, assigned to the 351st Strategic Missile Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo., stands Minuteman missile alert under the gender-specific crew policy on March 25, 1986.
  • In 1995, Capt. Martha McSally was the first female to fly combat missions
  • Col. Eileen Collins became the first female space shuttle commander on July 22, 1999.

Courtesy U.S. Air Force