As a jet aircraft maintenance specialist stationed in Keflavik, Iceland in 1978, I struck up a friendship with the pilot assigned to my F-4E Phantom, Captain Wayne Holum. A USAF Academy graduate (class of '73), he went on to become the first pilot assigned to fly Right Wing with the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds, following their transition to the F-16 in 1982. Retiring in 1999, he now flies for Southwest Airlines.
During my USAF Art Program trip to the UK in the summer of '07, I noted a lady's name adorning the canopy rail of #3. I couldn't help chiding Wayne, writing him that my esteem for him had fallen irrevocably, now that I found his could be done "... by a girl"
All kidding aside, as the first woman to fly with the Thunderbirds, Nicole Malachowski proves that, like her WASP predecessors 60+ years earlier, gender has no bearing on pilot skills. She embodies the warrior spirit which is inherent at all levels of the Air Force team, and I am happy to know her. She is pictured here on the ramp at Hickam, following arrival for Air Force Week activities, calmly and cooly facing reporters and photographers - just another facet of "women's work"