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August 1st, 2006
Flying Down to Kabul
Timeline: Female Fighter Pilots
1915 Marie Marvingt serves as a volunteer pilot in the French Army flying bomber missions over German-held Metz during WWI.
1935 Mrs. Ozra Asgar Gilani becomes the first woman in the Imperial Iranian Air Force.
1936 Sabiha Gökçen becomes the first Turkish female combat pilot. She is one of eight adopted children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. The number of female officers currently enlisted in the Turkish Armed Forces is 918. The newest international airport in Istanbul is named for Sabiha Gökçen.
1943 TKatya Budanova and Lydia Litvyak are moved from an all-female fighter pilot regiment to the all-male Soviet Air Force fighter regiment, 73rd Guards of the 8th Air Army. They were awarded the Soviet Order of the Red Star, and recognized as “flying aces,” or military aviators, credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft. Both Budanova and Litvyak were later shot down and killed in military engagements.
1952 Pilot Officer Jean Lennox Bird of the Women’s Royal Air Force becomes the first woman to receive full Royal Air Force Pilot’s Wings. She had been flying for 20 years, had amassed more than 300 hours of flight on 90 aircraft types, and had a Senior Commercial Pilot’s license. However, Lennox Bird was denied entry into the Royal Air Force due to restrictions against female pilots.
1989 Deanna Brasseur and Jane Foster graduate from a special jet fighter training program in Canada to become the first women qualified to fly the Royal Canadian Air Force’s most powerful plane, the CF-18.
1991 The United States Congress lifts ban on women flying combat aircraft. Today, women can enroll in Air Force pilot or navigator training and learn to operate any aircraft in the fleet.
2002 Three 24-year-old female air force officers become South Korea’s first female fighter pilots. First Lieutenants Park Ji Yeon, Park Ji Won and Pyun Bo Ra were appointed air force fighter pilots at a graduation ceremony after ending a seven-month, high-level flight training course.
2005 Danish pilot Line Bonde graduates from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, U.S.A. She is Denmark’s first female fighter pilot.
2006 For the first time, the Pakistani Air Force inducts four women as fighter pilots. The women are part of a class of 36 cadets awarded flying badges after three years of training at the Pakistani Air Force academy at Risalpur.
Sources: Imperial Iranian Airforce, Royal Air Force Museum, Discovery Channel, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, ASIAN POLITICAL NEWS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, BBC NEWS

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