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Women in the Air Force – displays in Global Reach Gallery

All-Female Transatlantic Flight

Since the 1980’s, women have made a number of all-female crew missions – to publicize and demonstrate women’s increasing presence in the military and in career fields previously only occupied by men.

Initially, these historic flights were limited to cargo aircraft. When the Department of Defense repealed combat exclusion rules, women began flying all-female missions in fighter aircraft.

The first all-female USAF transatlantic flight occurred on May 9, 1983, when an 18th Military Airlift Squadron crew flew a C-141B Starlifter from McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, to Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany. During the roundtrip flight, the crew air evacuated 50 seriously ill patients and transported 100 other service personnel and family members from West Germany to Washington, DC. The mission demonstrated the importance and growing presence of women in airborne operations, a traditionally male career field.

The first Air Force all-female aircrew in May 1983 included: Captain Guiliana Sangiorgio, aircraft commander; Captain Barbara E. Akin, first pilot; First Lieutenant Terri A. Ollinger, copilot; Technical Sergeant Donna L. Wertz, instructor flight engineer; Staff Sergeant Denise J. Meunier, flight engineer; Sergeant Mary Eiche, loadmaster; and Airman First Class Bernadette C. Botti, loadmaster.