By Shirin Rajaee

BEALE AFB (CBS13) —A female airman at Beale Air Force is making history.

She is the first female enlisted member of the U.S. Air Force now able to pilot aircraft, and she’ll be flying her planes, and carrying out her missions remotely.

Typically aircraft is flown by officers, but for the first time since World War II, they are looking at qualified enlisted members.

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Sgt. Courtney of Vacaville joined the Air Force in 2005, and now she’s the Air Force’s first female enlisted pilot. Pilots’ last names are not disclosed for security purposes.

“I was shocked, but it’s a huge honor and humbling I’m excited to learn about our mission here at Beale,” said Sgt. Courtney.

Throughout her career, she has worked a number of roles in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance field, and now she’ll be flying a massive aircraft, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, without ever stepping foot inside.

“From this station, I’m in full control of the aircraft, I constantly know what the aircraft is doing, and where it’s heading,” she said.

With just the click of a mouse and a keyboard, she will not only be flying the aircraft but commanding intelligence gathering missions worldwide.

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“She must know every rule and regulation not just in the U.S. but around the world, cause she can be flying an operation in the United States one day and the next day in South America, then in Europe, she just won’t know,” said Major Mike.

“This will be the first class of enlisted pilots since World War II to go through any kind of training program,” said Captain Diana.

For decades, the Air Force has relied on officers to pilot its aircraft, but due to a serious pilot shortage, this program was launched.

“We just don’t have enough pilots to execute all the missions that America has tasked for us, so we are reaching out to the enlisted core,” said Maj. Mike.

“You execute the takeoff, you execute the mission, then you land,” said Sgt. Courtney as she showed us how a sample mission would look like on the computer screen.

She says being the first female is something she takes pride in.

“It’s an equal playing field, it’s not about gender anymore, it’s about qualifications and that’s exciting looking forward,” she said.

By January, Sgt. Courtney will be completing her training and graduating from the program. Shortly after that, she and about six others will begin their missions.


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