The First American Women to Fly Combat Missions

I’m very excited about a new article I wrote that was just published in the new issue of Air and Space Quarterly, the member magazine of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

It reveals the names of the first American women to officially fly combat missions. U.S. Navy Lieutenant Kimberly “Face” Dyson was the first, on November 15, 1994, flying an F/A-18 Hornet as part of Operation: Southern Watch. Several other women joined her in the weeks that followed. Four of these women (two other F/A-18 pilots, and one E-2 Hawkeye pilot) sat down with me a while back for an interview, resulting in this new article about their experiences.

What’s especially cool about this, is that their names were not well known before this. It had been lightly reported at the time that women had flown combat missions that November, but most of their names were unknown. These women (Dyson, as well as Joy Dean, Sharon Deegan, and Lisa Kirkpatrick) are important figures in women’s history, aviation history, military history, and American history in general.

You can read their stories in the current (Winter 2024) issue of Air and Space Quarterly, or check it out online here.