Women in aviation empower, next generation

Airmen from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron and 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron pose for a photo at Kadena Air Base, Japan, March 21, 2022. The all-female crew flew to McConnell Air Force Base to conduct a tail-swap mission and participate in a community outreach event with Girl Scouts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)
Airmen from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron and 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron pose for a photo at Kadena Air Base, Japan, March 21, 2022. The all-female crew flew to McConnell Air Force Base to conduct a tail-swap mission and participate in a community outreach event with Girl Scouts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla)

Women in aviation empower, next generation

by 1st Class Yosselin Perla
18th Wing Public Affairs

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --  Equipped with a total of 4,000 flying hours under their belts, an all-female crew from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron and the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flew to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, March 21, 2022, in hopes of inspiring a troop of 35 Girl Scouts.

“Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back,” explained U.S. Air Force Capt. Alexis Pells, 909th Air Refueling Squadron aircraft commander. “There’s a lot of opportunities, both in and out of the military, and a lot of people say no to things before they even consider if they might be good at something just because they don’t know anything about it.”

The Girl Scouts is one of the largest organizations for girls in the world — their mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

“I was a Girl Scout in elementary school so I’m excited to talk to the Girl Scouts about what we do in the military and about the different career opportunities that are out there,” Pells said. “Growing up in Southern California I was no stranger to the Navy, but I never really met any females who were in the military or doing anything that was similar.”

The crew hopes to inspire the Girl Scout troop into going after anything they set their minds to and recognizes the importance of having female mentors and exposing girls to new ideas and opportunities.

“I feel empowered to be able to show girls a different occupation that they can strive for,” explained U.S. Air Force Capt. Jessica Wallander, 909th Air Refueling Squadron aircraft commander. “I never aspired to be a pilot, but as I was going through the Air Force Academy, my mentor encouraged me to keep my career path options open and to consider it.”

Every March, Women’s History Month provides an opportunity to honor the contributions women have made to advance society and inspire the next generation to carry that idea forward.

“Women's History Month is a great opportunity to recognize the amazing work women around the military are doing,” stated U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Wilson, 909th ARS commander. “I could not be more proud of the 909th ARS female crews that demonstrate excellence daily by being among the best pilots, boom operators and maintainers anywhere in the world. This crew is one of many that represent the approximate seven percent female pilot core in the Air Force today as they act as ambassadors of progress that others may follow.”

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