All Female Operation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing

From the ground to the skies, every support role and operational role for flight PACK81 was filled by women of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, March 17, 2022 at Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire.

“A flight like this is still unique which is why we are celebrating it,” said Capt. Joy Dewitt, one of two female pilots currently flying with the 157th Operations Group. “But I am looking forward to the day when an all-female operation is something we see regularly.”

Airman 1st Class Abi Iverson, a crew chief with the 157th Maintenance Group, said she hopes the flight will inspire and motivate young Airmen to reach for their dream job.

“Today, women can be in every avenue, every support role and every operational role to make a mission like this capable,” she said. “I hope this flight shows young females and all young people in general that it is possible to do whatever job you want to do.”

Days before the aircrew boarded and the briefings were given, the women of the 157th Logistic Readiness Squadron, Wing Staff agencies and Mission Support Group ensured all of the maintainers and the crew had everything they needed. The jet fuel would be ready and so would they. 

Staff Sgt. Nicole Hayes, a command post specialist with the 157th Air Refueling Wing, said she was excited to see the entire operation come together.

“The really exciting part for me is all of the women behind the scenes,” she said. "This flight highlights the strong women we have in this unit as well as all of the roles Airmen have that contribute to getting every flight off the ground.”

Checklists completed and radios on, the crew taxied toward the runway. The pilots, Dewitt and Lt. Col. Christina Frey, were guided by Staff Sgt. Natalie Howes and Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Melanson, air traffic controllers with the 260th Air Traffic Control Squadron in the tower and Tech. Sgt. Jessica Lee and Iverson, crew chiefs with the 157th MXG on the flight line. 

“I think it’s exciting to see this become a normal situation where it doesn’t have to be a first or a crazy story,” Hayes said. “It will be cool to see the day this is just reality, where it’s your mom, your sister, your cousin, a woman you know, who is serving in any one of these roles in the U.S. Air Force.”