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.

44 COMMENTS

    • The answer to your question is in it…because its something mainly men routinely do. F-35 first test flight December 2006, and whilst I’m sure female pilots have been flying the jets, after 12 years seems article worthy that a female pilot has led a flight mission.

      As for equal rights for men please do elaborate on which ways you feel behind on your rights Geoffrey?

      • There are times when I should not try be light hearted I know but I thought on UKDJ. But I still get picked up. Never mind. If you really need a serious answer Robert it is this. I have believed in equality for all from the days of my youth, some while ago now. However I am increasingly sick and tired of ‘isms and political correctness and I can’t help but think that it’s having a negative effect. See my other later comment.
        Now , on a different note does your handle Robert1 suggest that there are other Robert’s secondary to your good self? Very dangerous. Don’t worry.. only a bit of mischief!

        • On the Robert1 I have to blame clumsy fingers, and having only noticed after posting it was too late to retract, any semblance of egotistic self elevation purely a subconscious slip.

          In terms of the ‘isms. I’d have to agree on it having a negative effect, but think I fall on the other side of the why it’s having a negative effect but on the other side of the argument to you. Having attended UK university in last 5 years, I accept and saw individuals whose efforts to promote their group began to infringe on others or just infringe in general common sense. They were for want of a better words but I’d emphasise they were in the majority. The vast majority of those with good intentions who sought to address issues of sexism/racism/homophobia went about things the right way and were looking to address real issues. I know this is a micro-bubble of university however I feel it extends to wider society. Yes there are people pushing what are frankly at times bizarre agendas, but the majority of people looking for change are seeking to address genuine issues. Yes they may campaign under the banner of feminism, etc. But frequently are not focused on solely the group that name would suggest (i.e. women in this case), I know a lot of feminist friends who under the umbrella of feminism who promote a society which encourages men to properly engage with their emotions, and hence address issues like male suicide. Of course accept there’s a debate there as to whether should just call it egalitarianism feel things like that showing -isms aren’t on a general level (as opposed to radical minority members, who yes may shout loudly be achieve little) aren’t generally a negative effect.

          I’ll get off my soapbox now. Apologies if comes across as preachy but working in an unnamed UK dockyard, rants about PC/-isms etc is one of many of my colleagues favourite topics and the way they use the radical actions of the few to represent rational majority becomes frustrating (not suggesting this is your view Geoffrey). Guess it’s in the same way that only the minority of UK shipworks prefer glue to a torque wrench…;)

          • So many errors and missing words in my comment apologies…long time lurker and new commenter…already time to add my voice to the “Edit function please” :’)

          • Hi Robert. I was going to try to explain to you how I felt but instead I’ll refer you to Michael’s blog below which I think says it all. My Mother had a saying..”they’re their own worst enemies”. Hundreds of pressure groups are destroying their own arguments because their audience is listening anymore.

          • Wow, looking down their are more comments on this article than nearly anything else.

            I’m all for equal rights, men should be allowed to cry and whine and act irrationally just like any woman!

            Joke!!

            I’m married to a woman, they’re alright! 3 weeks out of four anyway. Joke!

    • Because equality isn’t equal really is it… Modern day equality is pushing the agenda of the few in favour of the many. A significant reason why this country is on its arse if you ask me!

      Heard of a case recently where a male employee was disciplined at work for holding a door open for a woman who to offence at this, as she is more than capable of holding her own door open… Apparently manners are now gender biased. Put me on the first rocket to Mars.

      On a separate note… nice to see the Directing Staff on Channel 4’s ‘Who Dares Wins’ treating the women with as much contempt as the men!! 🙂

    • I would like to see the day when people are judged on the content of their character (MLK) and of course their merits – instead of this hyper-exaggerated focus on appearance, gender, sexual orientation and skin colour. All this separating, segregating, highlighting DIFFERENCES of races and genders is not healthy – we are all one people. Just agree – we are all equal and be done with it – and treat everyone the same. Evaluate everyone the same. No exceptions, special treatments and no special classes.

  1. I knew there was going to be a mob in the comments that was offended about this. If you don’t care, why did you click on the article and take some time out of your day to write a rant about it? Silly people.

        • Oh, That explains it then. Personally, until you posted, I was happy to read It and move on without feeling like I had to call anyone a silly person for taking the time commentating. As far as I know, This Site Is here so that People can Comment and Discuss any Thread that Is Posted, without too many rules. Or fear of being called Silly.

          • Well that’s somewhere where we differ. I consider it important to point out double standards or general unreasonableness so that people might think before posting unsavoury comments (yes I know this is turning into one) without fear of being pulled up on it. A futile effort I know, but there we are. By the way, my “silly people” remark was supposed to be quite harmless, I highly doubt anyone fears being called silly.

          • Ohh I don’t mind being called silly….I suppose because of often am….people calling me stupid on the other hand that one really piss3s me off.

  2. I don’t see why people get so bent out of shape about PR like this. Its not celebrating that a women is in this position, it is simply demonstrating and reinforcing that women are more than capable of operating and advancing in roles that many to this day still do not associate with women. Her comments about women in other roles reinforces this. Clearly bias against this fact exists as long as women get paid less than men in society for doing the same job with the same or better ability, or are excluded or marginalized in such roles. Its important because we should want UK armed forces to have the broadest, most competent/qualified base from which to recruit, particularly when numbers are below target and recruitment is challenged.

    • The problem is that it reinforces a largely liberal anti-male narrative that women are essentially victims, belong in a celebrated, pitied and rewarded victim class, and that (all) men perpetuate the equality problem. Give me one example in modern times (please do not go back to Emily Pankhurst days) in the last 5 years say, where women were prevented from doing the same job a man does. I can’t think of one. Please do not give us individual acts of sexism; sexism will never be stamped out and getting those examples is child’s play. Give me a systematic example, policy, Dept. organizational rules of any kind. In the UK or USA. Thank you

      • No, it really doesn’t reinforce a largely liberal …. etc etc. With respect that seems to be you superimposing your own belief system.

        You seem to be either throwing me a softball … or deliberately setting me up for something … but I’ll respond with British women being banned from close combat roles, up until that ban was lifted in mid-2016. But your 5 years is an arbitrary time-frame and extremely short in the context of the time it takes to change perceptions and that is what PR such as that which led to this article are about; changing perceptions. Its not just about opening up positions assuming they weren’t already open but advertising that they exist and that women are absolutely capable of filling them.

        Just one example of how long perceptions and beliefs can last, even in those most exposed to counter examples. In the third episode of Britain’s Biggest Warship on the QE carrier (an excellent series), an officer with 38 years service, while acknowledging the value of women, not wanting to go to sea without them and thinking it wrong not to access the talents of 50% of the population, was still honest enough to express how he felt conflicted and felt it wrong for women to go to war. What was interesting was that he was also part of a mid-90’s documentary on the RN (which they show a clip from in the video) where he expressed much stronger reservations about “the fairer sex” and “child bearers” serving. He seems a decent guy whose views have changed over the nearly 40 years of service alongside women, but he clearly still carries a bias about women serving, however well meaning his belief is. Women have to counter that type of bias as well as much more pernicious forms.

        • Well, there is a certain level of scientific backing for that opinion. It falls under the line of “Survival of the Species.” Of the two sexes, Males are more expendable. Females, on the other hand, are much less so. Has to do with having sufficient diversity in the gene-pool to allow for a healthy base for growth or recovery.

        • What glass half said, it’s not just about now it’s about at least a generation of culture and experience, groups that have suffered inequality don’t just leap from lacking in power to having equal power, it takes a lot of time and energy to embed. Problem is those in the group that have not experienced a lack of power can’t really get what that means. Unless they try it usually ends in tears and bloodshed one way or another.

          • Yup. Articles like this are as much about the future than the present.

            Society has a way of conditioning people from birth and part of that conditioning can be that certain roles are only for certain genders, ethnicities etc. I think that’s particularly true for gender actually. In some cases there are valid reasons for a gender-predominance in a particular career but in the case of test pilots I can see no such reason.

            By publicising this achievement by Maj. Winiecki (and it will have been an achievement given the scepticism and in some cases possibly outright hostility that she will have had to battle with since however young she was when she first started showing an interest in what has ultimately become her profession) it gives even girls of primary school age a role model and they can see that they are not freaks if they prefer to play with models of an F-35 than Barbie dolls.

            And for people thinking that this is a one way street think back to the 50s, 60s and probably much of the 70s too. If you were a man wanting to go into nursing you would have been thought very weird and had some very negative experiences during your training and subsequent career due to gender stereotypes. The same to a lesser extent is probably true of primary school teachers. Men needed some help breaking into those professions.

            Congratulations to Maj. Rachael Winiecki, a genuine achievement to fight your way to that position in such a male-dominated environment. Hopefully more young girls and women with a passion for flying will see this and be emboldened to make it their career of choice as well – assuming they do turn out to be genuinely gifted enough to perform at that level of course.

        • GHF I’ll give you the softball on the UK combat roles AKA “the right to die for your country.” I think it is fair that women do their share of their fighting and dying for the defence of the country and in all other dangerous roles – SAS, SBS, Fire fighters etc. It should be fully normalized and I’d argue it largely already is. Especially in the States.

          And I agree, the five years window was as you said, arbitrary. But I can’t think of anything restrictive today? I also get your point on perceptions and beliefs, but when is enough – enough? Here is the problem as I see it: Many males who are the finest upstanding and fair decent people you’d ever meet, are being caught up in this VERY WIDE net of sexism and discrimination. We now have Gillette telling us how to act. Men are literally being held accountable for all manner of sins of the past, and present. Individual acts of racism and sexism will never ever be stamped out. But institutionalized acts of discrimination have been corrected, haven’t they?

          I suspect millions of men are like me – I absolutely 100% treat everyone equally in every regard. But liberal ideology assigns people to certain victim groups and as is seen in the States (Elizabeth Warren), there are perks and rewards and other entitlements if you can somehow get yourself associated with a victim group, class. Let’s agree to disagree is probably where we will have to end this because honestly, I find liberal ideology disempowering and divisive and not empowering or unifying. Liberal ideology seeks to amplify differences, while I believe Conservatives focus more on the things that unify and connect us as one equal people.

          • Malcolm, we seem to be talking from two different perspectives. You seem to feel that provided there is no institutional discrimination then ipso facto there is no discrimination, which seems to be a particularly rosy view of the world. The PR is not likely to change the views of those determined to be discriminatory. It may change the views of those inadvertently discriminatory based on false perceptions.

            Hence, I and others are pointing out that perceptions are what still need to be countered. For example a young girl might dream of growing up to be a jet pilot, while her grandmother might try to dissuade her because its “unladylike.” The grandmother isn’t discriminating against the girl, institutionally or otherwise. The grandmother might believe her actions are in the best interests of the girl, but they are based on dated perceptions that haven’t moved with the times. Hence why its important to work to change perceptions.

  3. I’m a great believer in free speech and the right to offend, some of you lot offend me all the time ( in a constructive not my own world view way) and I try hard to give a bit back, this is an important part of not becoming extreme and inflexible of thought ( if you only hear your world view reflected back it embeds it more and more).

    But when I feel isms are getting me down I remember this, Alan Mathesion Turing OBE, did more for this country in its darkest hour than almost any other single individual and there were possibly 14 million people alive at the end of WW2 because of his work and mind.

    This man died within living memory by his own hand because of how our nation treated him and the entrenched systematic homophobia within our nations legal system and culture at the time.

    We remember why (Rightly) Jews (and other right thinkers) absolutely challenge any hint they see of anti semitism, we should give other groups that have suffered injustice (in living memory) a we bit of slack/support as well, even if it seems to us (many of us coming from that pretty privileged white male group) that they are overcompensating.

    Note: But I’m still going to bitch about gay pride closing loads of the roads in Brighton every year (cuz it’s irritating), even if I get why.

    Free speaking, debate loving liberals unite.

  4. This article is sexist in a way, its almost saying ‘look a woman did a job that a man normally does, isn’t she a clever girl’!

    Its also part of a growing trend of giving women more acknowledgement than they really deserve, as someone else here said, shes doing the same job as men, acknowledge them all equally.

    At least the forces haven’t set some absurd targets like industry has set. Must have x% female board members, must have x % BAM shop floor workers etc ( or have they?).

    At the end of they day most of us want their Doctor, Electrician, Ships Captain, Fighter Pilot to be the best on offer, selected on merit, not on sex, colour or religion just to satisfy some PC BS wet dream up thought up by the uber liberal minority.

    Now await the histrionic replies…

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