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This Is the Marine Corps' 1st Female F-35B Fighter Pilot
Aug 09, 2019
by Gina Harkins
Twenty-four years after the Marine Corps got its first female aviator, another woman pilot is making history.
Capt. Anneliese Satz is the Marine Corps' first-ever female F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter jet pilot. The 29-year-old from Boise, Idaho, has spent the past four years training as a naval aviator.
Now, she's cleared to operate the cutting-edge fifth-generation stealth, supersonic fighter aircraft in combat. She's the first woman to complete the F-35B Basic Course, designed specifically for the Marine Corps variant of the fighter jet. The F-35B can take off and land vertically from amphibious assault ship flight decks and austere locations with little runway space.
Satz is joining the "Green Knights" with the Japan-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121. VMFA-121 was the first F-35B squadron to complete an operational deployment with a Marine expeditionary unit aboard a Navy ship.
Satz recalled the first time she took off in the Joint Strike Fighter in a Marine Corps news release announcing her career milestone.
"The first flight in an F-35 is by yourself," she said. "... It's an exhilarating experience."
Satz was licensed to fly the single-engine Robinson R44 light helicopter before joining the Marine Corps. Since switching to fixed wing, she's flown the T-6 Texan II tandem-seat, turboprop trainer and the T-45C Goshawk carrier capable jet trainer, which prepares naval aviators for tactical missions.
She then joined Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, where she trained to fly the military's newest fighter jet. Showing up and working hard are what allowed her to succeed, she said.
Satz also credited the instructors, maintainers and other members of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 for helping her complete the F-35B Basic Course.
"This is a phenomenal program made possible by all of their hard work," she said. "I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from all of them. I am incredibly excited to get to VMFA-121 and look forward to the opportunity to serve in the Fleet Marine Forces."
Earlier, another female Marine aviator made history when she became the first woman selected to fly the Corps' other Joint Strike Fighter variant -- the F-35C.
First Lt. Catherine Stark will join the Navy's fleet replacement squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 125, where she'll fly the F-35 variant designed for carrier operations.
Female Marines have been able to fly only since 1993 when the service opened pilot positions to women. Then-2nd Lt. Sarah Deal, a CH-53E heavy-lift helicopter pilot, became the Marine Corps' first female aviator in 1995. And Capt. Vernice Armour, an AH-1W Cobra pilot, became the service's first black female pilot in 2001.
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Photo caption: Capt. Anneliese Satz puts on her flight helmet prior to a training flight aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. Satz graduated the F-25B Lightning II Pilot Training Program in June and will be assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 in Iwakuni, Japan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ashley Phillips)
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