First female F-35 test pilot completes flight mission
Maj. Rachael Winiecki, 461st Flight Test Squadron developmental test pilot, completed the first flight mission led by a female say the US Air Force in a release.
“I may be the first female developmental test pilot (in the F-35), but (test pilots) are just one small part of the test enterprise,” Winiecki said in the release.
She said although aviation tends to be a male dominated field, the number of women in flight test is increasing. Winiecki said that there are several female test directors, test conductors, discipline engineers and flight test engineers at the 461st FLTS, in addition to those serving in engineering, maintenance and support functions.
Namely, she spoke about her crew chief for the mission, Airman 1st Class Heather Rice, of the 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
“It was great having Airman Rice there,” Winiecki said. “I am very proud of the work she does on the line, and I’m glad that she is part of our team.”
According to Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton, 461st FLTS commander, Winiecki’s experience with the A-10 was one of the factors to her being selected as an F-35 test pilot.
“Major Winiecki was selected to become an F-35 test pilot based on her exceptional flying ability and the important voice she brings to the F-35 development as a prior A-10 pilot,” Hamilton said.