In the B-2’s 30 year history, there have been nearly 700 people airborne in the two-person cockpit of the $2.2 billion stealth bomber. About 500 of them have been pilots, only 10 of whom have been women.
The 10th woman to become a B-2 pilot, Capt. Lauren Kram, graduated from her training course at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Oct. 4, 2019.
“Nine incredible women have come before me, blazing this trail,” Kram says. “I feel honored to be among them and I know there will be many more of us that follow.”
Their collective story began 19 years ago in 2002. Each has a common theme of strength, perseverance, making a long-time dream come true, and inspiring future generations.
During the month of March, we will be featuring the 10 women.
Number Six: Lt. Col. Nicola Polidor, Spirit Number 507
As a preteen girl, Nicky Polidor had hundreds of magazine cutouts taped all over the bedroom walls of her California home. But they weren’t pictures of boybands or heartthrobs from popular TV shows.
They were airplanes.
“All types, small, big, commercial, military,” Polidor remembers. “The fast, elusive, military jets really captivated me.”
Soon, she went from a girl dreaming about planes to actually flying them. Her first lessons were in a Cessna and her instructor was a Finnish woman who was an Alaskan bush pilot by trade.
“She had a profound influence on me,” Polidor says. “I’ll never forget being able to solo a Cessna because of her guidance. The fact that she was a female, professional pilot, especially given her generation, was an unspoken, subtle inspiration that I could do anything I wanted.”
In 2011, Polidor became the sixth woman to pilot the B-2.
Being a female pilot occurs to her more now that she’s older, Polidor says. When she first began flying, she just tried to fit in. Today, she is treated like any other pilot, but Polidor is more aware of workforce dynamics and the role gender plays when it comes to policies, pay and retention.
“I am encouraged to think that society is evolving and one day soon the reaction to me saying, ‘I fly the B-2’ isn’t ‘They let women do that?!’ anymore.”