First woman pilots F35 joint strike fighter

A woman has piloted the F-35 joint strike fighter, which will soon join the Royal Australian Air Force for the first time.

US Lieutenant Colonel Christine Mau flew the jet for the first time on May 5 at an air force base in Florida, USA.

“Flying is a great equaliser,” Lt Col Mau said in a statement.

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‘The plane doesn’t know or care about your gender’, says pilot.

“The plane doesn’t know or care about your gender as a pilot, nor do the ground troops who need your support.

“You just have to perform. That’s all anyone cares about when you’re up there – that you can do your job, and that you do it exceptionally well.”

Ms Mau was the first female pilot in the worldwide F-35 program.

“It wasn’t until I was taxiing to the runway that it really struck me that I was on my own in the jet,” she said.

“I had a chase aircraft, but there was no weapons system officer or instructor pilot sitting behind me, and no one in my ear like in simulators.”

In 2011, Ms Mau flew with an all-female team in Afghanistan.

Female pilots have a proud tradition in militaries the world over.

For example, a division of Russian female pilots nicknamed the ‘Night Witches’ wreaked havoc on Hitler during World War II.

Australia is expected to take delivery of its first F-35A Lightning II jets by 2018.

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