Before Women Could Be Fighter Pilots

Let me tell you a story about Grace Tiscareno-Sato. Grace served in Air Force in the 1990s before women could fly in fighter jets. Even though she graduated as the third person in her class and F-15s were available her sex made it so she couldn’t pick the plane she wanted to fly.

before women could be fighter pilots

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Grace served in the Air Force on active duty in the 90s for 9 1/2 years. While she was in, she was a flight crew member onboard KC-135 refueling jets. She has been everywhere at least twice. She had two non-flying stints during her military service which included various leadership positions. She ran an airlift control center for NATO in Italy and ran a counter-narcotics operation support center in Ecuador.

First Generation American

Grace’s parents immigrated to the United States and she grew up in the US. She knew in high school she wanted to attend college, but she also knew her family couldn’t afford to pay for her to attend college. She went to her high school councilors office to learn about how to attend college and she invited Grace to dinner to meet her husband. He is the one who told her about the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program that helped her find the Air Force and her career.

She was a Navigator in the Air Force that started with flying but led to teaching others how to be a Navigator and war planning for different contingencies. Even with GPS technology today the Navigator plays an important role in the Aircraft. Grace served in the 90s in the early years of GPS but she was required to chart their course and if they lose GPS capabilities the Navigator has to quickly take over to ensure the Aircraft is in the right place.

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Married to a Civilian

Her husband proposed to her the day she got her wings. He never served in the military, but has a shirt that says “Air Force Husband…the hardest job in the Air Force.” It was hard to be a military spouse as a male. Most of the other military spouses are female and almost all the events are female-focused. It makes it hard for male military spouses to feel included and it can be lonely to be a military spouse and amplified if you are a male military spouse.

She left the military right before she was scheduled to meet her Major board. She wanted to PCS and see the world while the Air Force wanted her to stay and possibly move to headquarters to do paperwork and not fly. She did not want to continue on that path but was told that was her only option.

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Connect with Grace:

Goodnight Captain Mama Books and Patches
 A little boy named Marco is walking to his bedroom in pajamas carrying his stuffed puppy dog when he notices his mommy in an olive-green military flight suit. His curiosity about the colorful patches on her uniform evolves into a sweet, reassuring bedtime conversation between a military mother and her child about why she serves and what she does in the unusual KC-135R aerial refueling airplane. He drifts off to sleep with thoughts of his mommy in the airplane and the special surprise she gave him stuck to his fleece pajamas. This unique book was written by a Latina military officer and former aviator. It’s the first bilingual children’s book, in English and Spanish, about why mommies wear military uniforms. 

Get her book: Get her book: Good Night Captain Mama: Buenas Noches Capitán Mamá (English and Spanish Edition)

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Let me tell you a story about Grace Tiscareno-Sato. Grace served in Air Force in the 1990s before women could fly in fighter jets. Even though she graduated as the third person in her class and F-15s were available her sex made it so she couldn't pick the plane she wanted to fly. #airforce #militaryhistory #womenofthemilitary

2 comments on “Before Women Could Be Fighter Pilots

  1. I am a Air Force veteran from many years ago (1961-1965) when women were only allowed to servemedics, admin, supply, TIs, weather and photography. I am so happy that women are finally being recognized as the heroic, true warriors that they are. God bless you for sharing the stories.

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