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ABC-7 Xtra: Taking flight at Holloman Air Force Base

ALAMOGORDO, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Just to the north of El Paso, the Air Force's 54th Fighter Group at Holloman Air Force Base trains about 100 skilled F-16 pilots every year. Very few of them are women.

First Lieutenant Lili Ruland is one of two female student pilots at Holloman Air Force Base.

"I recently had a mentor tell me, you are a minority in this field, says 1LT Ruland. "A fighter pilot isn't a gender. It's who you are that's deeper than that."

Captain Ashley Thaxton is the second.

"This jet doesn't care if I'm a male or female. It just cares that I'm a good fighter pilot, says Capt. Thaxton."

According to the Department of Defense, women make up about twenty percent of the Air Force. However, they were not always allowed to fly fighter jets in combat.

In 1993, the military allowed women to fly combat missions for the first time.

It was one of the first combat roles that opened up to women in the military.

"It really just shows how much effort they put into having a diverse Air force, because that's truly what makes us stronger," Capt. Thaxton says.

To highlight the role of women in the program, ABC-7's Crista Mack is taking flight in an F-16. Watch her special report Thursday, only on ABC-7 at 10.

Article Topic Follows: Military

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Crista V. Mack

Crista V. Mack is a U.S. Air Force veteran who transitioned to news as a multi-media journalist.


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