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May 15, 2014

A fini flight for the history books

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Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo be Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)
Capt. Kelly Nettleblad, Capt. Rachel Winiecki and 1st Lt. Jessica Wyble, 354th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilots and 1st Lt. Katherine Conrad 107th FS Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, A-10 pilot, walk across the flight line to their aircraft here May 5. They flew in a four ship together for Nettleblad’s final flight with the 354th Bulldogs.

Capt Kelly Nettleblad, Capt Rachael Winiecki, and 1st Lt Jessica Wyble, 354th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilots, along with 1st Lt Katherine Conrad, 107th FS Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan A-10 pilot, participated in Capt Nettleblad’s “Fini flight” from D-M on May 5.

This flight, not only gave Nettleblad a final chance to fly alongside her Desert Lightning Team Members, but also gave her the opportunity to make history as well.

“It’s kind of rare that we get to be in a four ship with all females just because there are so few of us,” Nettleblad said. “I don’t think a four ship of A-10 female pilots has been done before.”

Larry Herndon, 355th Fighter Wing historian, confirmed there is no record of an all-female A-10 four ship at D-M.

“I haven’t seen any data that this has been accomplished before now,” Herndon said.

There are only three female pilots flying A-10s at D-M. Conrad’s temporary duty assignment to D-M’s Angel Thunder exercise made the all-female-four-ship possible.

“I was always planning to have the other two female pilots in my formation but it was just good timing having the other pilot on TDY here,” Nettleblad said. “We worked through our leadership to have her approved to fly with us.”

Even though this was the first time four female pilots flew together in the A-10s at D-M, Winiecki said it was not any different than flying with the male pilots in the Bulldogs.

“It’s no different with all females flying, all males flying, or a mix,” Winiecki said. “We all hold ourselves to the same standard.”

For females aspiring to be pilots, Nettleblad encourages them to follow their dreams.

“If it is something you want to do, then don’t be discouraged by other people or stereotypes that say pilots are all males,” Nettleblad said. “I would say that it’s possible to be just as good if not better than the other people that you fly with.”

Nettleblad will be leaving the 354th Bulldogs for Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. She says that she will miss her 354th family but she is also excited to see what Nellis has to offer.

“It’s bittersweet because I had a great time while in the Bulldogs and I’m really sad to be leaving.” Nettleblad said. “But I’m excited to go to Nellis and see a different change of pace at a different squadron.”




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