Altus Airmen honor women of past, look to future

  • Published
  • By Kevin Chandler
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
March is Women's History Month, a time to not only to honor women of the past but also an opportunity to spotlight the women of the present and the actions they take to form the future.

When Capt. Elizabeth Scott, 58th Air Refueling Squadron instructor pilot, was asked about the importance of Women's History Month she thought for a moment before summing it up.

"I just feel very privileged to be where I am," Captain Scott said. "It's because of the females that went ahead of me, and did have the struggles and now I feel that the path has been paved." 

When older women find out she is a pilot, the captain said, "they are usually proud."

Captain Scott has been flying since high school, and while she wasn't always certain she would be a pilot she was sure she would join the military. She attended college at the University of Arizona because their Reserve Officer Training Corps program was so recognized, earning her commission in the Air Force just prior to Sept. 11.

After gaining experience as a C-17 Globemaster pilot, Captain Scott felt the desire to use the skills she had acquired to help others. Her request to be an instructor pilot was granted and she was sent to Altus in November 2008.

The captain said becoming an instructor has been a fulfilling career move. 

"Teaching them something new like air refueling or assault landings; watching them actually get it and become really good at it -- that's really satisfying," she said.

Captain Scott said she enjoys being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated career field. 

"Diversity is important," she said. "Without those stereotypes everything is based on what you do and how well you do it. Once women weren't allowed to be pilots, but today we fly fighters."

Women are also making significant contributions on the ground. Staff Sgt. Amy Chandler, a fire truck maintenance journeyman assigned to the 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron, ensures that if a fire breaks out, the trucks are always ready to roll.

Sergeant Chandler works in a career field that wasn't open to women in the past. But, she notes, things have changed.

"Perceptions of a woman now in the Air Force are totally different than 20 or 30 years ago," she said, "you're basically doing the same job as a man and getting the same respect and the same results."

Mr. Johnnie Long, Fire Truck Maintenance shop supervisor, said Sergeant Chandler gets even better results than most mechanics. "I've worked with the Air Force since 1970 and she is one of the best mechanics I've worked with. Right now she is doing the job of four people; this went from a seven person shop to a three person shop," he explained.

"She does anything, and gives 100 percent no matter what," Mr. Long continued.

Sergeant Chandler equates her performance with the fulfillment she receives from doing her job well. "My job is extremely fulfilling to me," she said. "I think that when people see me and they see that I'm doing this job, and doing it well, it kind of makes them think they can do whatever they want to do too."

Both Sergeant Chandler and Captain Scott want their experiences to inspire others.

"I like to encourage other younger gals that the sky's the limit, literally," Captain Scott said. "They can do whatever they want, whether it's in the military or the civilian world -- whether it's be a doctor or whether it's be a pilot."