Female pioneers of military aviation gather at McChord

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eric Burks
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
One woman flew military aircraft in the waning days of World War II while another woman is the first operational and combat-ready female F-22 Raptor pilot.

Dorothy Olsen, a former member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, met July 20 at the McChord Air Expo 2008 with Capt. Jammie Jamieson, who flies the the Air Force's newest and most advanced fighter aircraft. 

Ms. Olsen, who recently turned 92, read a feature article on Captain Jamieson and requested the opportunity to meet with her.

As a WASP, she primarily flew fighter aircraft in the program from 1943 through the end of the war, said her son Kim Olsen.

"She was qualified on everything the Army flew, as well as some Navy planes," he said.

However, he noted, her favorites were the P-51 and P-38 fighters. 

"She felt bombers were like driving busses," Mr. Olsen said.

Ms. Olsen had always wanted to fly growing up, and she took flying lessons in a Piper cub, her son said. As soon as she heard about the WASP program, she signed up. The pilot wings his mother wore were among the rarest from World War II, with only about 1,000 issued, he said.

The Air Force currently has 13,202 pilots, of which 596 are female, according to Air Force Personnel Center statistics.

Ms. Olsen said she ferried the planes from factory to points of shipment in the United States, but did not have the opportunity to take any overseas.

"I loved every minute of it," she said.

As the former WASP and current F-22 pilot shared stories and flying experiences, they learned that the two had both flown in the same airspace over at least one town, more than 50 years apart. 

One of her favorite memories was flying a P-38 at night over Coolidge, Ariz. She said she caused a stir when she buzzed the field and "woke the whole town up."

Captain Jamieson said she spent a week in Coolidge during her junior year at the U.S. Air Force Academy learning aerobatics during glider training.

The captain, a Washington native who graduated from Prosser High School in 1996, received her commission through the Academy in 2000. She said she was very inspired by the astronaut program, specifically with their courage in the face of the unknown.

She said she loves flying the F-22, and that aerial "dog fighting" is her favorite part.

Captain Jamieson is currently stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, where she is the mobility flight commander for the 525th Fighter Squadron.

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