Caroline “Blaze” Jensen, first qualified female pilot in the T-7A Red Hawk, Follows flight plan of World War II women aviators.
While neither the arrowhead loop nor the diamond roll flight maneuvers are part of the T-7A Red Hawk training curriculum, pilot Caroline “Blaze” Jensen could teach this new jet some of her old tricks one day.
As she explains in the video in this post, as the leader of Boeing T-7A sales and first female pilot to qualify in the advanced trainer, Jensen once flew spectacular aerial maneuvers as part of the Air Force’s “Thunderbirds” demonstration team. Now, she brings the new trainer’s advancements out of the cockpit and to future customers with first-hand experience- mindful of the women who blazed the trail for her.
“It’s an honor to pave the way for a diverse set of future pilots,” Jensen said in Randy Jackson’s article “Blaze” Jensen, first qualified female pilot in the T-7A Red Hawk, honors her heroes. “I’m reminded every time I fly of the women aviation pioneers who flew and served before me. Some I’m honored to call my friends and inspiration.” Jensen flies a support role to a designated lead Boeing Test & Evaluation pilot on each of her sorties.
The Air Force Academy graduate, with more than 3,400 flight hours including 200 in combat, carries a flight patch honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II attached to her flight kneeboard.
“It’s called the “Fifinella” and the character on the patch was created by The Walt Disney Co. during the war and given to the WASP to sew onto their A-2 flight jackets,” she explained.
WASP members trained pilots and ferried and tested military aircraft during the war while male pilots flew in combat. Women weren’t permitted to fly combat missions until 1993.
“We didn’t think of ourselves as doing anything special,” said Jensen’s friend Nell “Mickey” Bright, a WASP pilot who turns 100 this year. “It was just so much fun flying those incredible airplanes and helping out in the war effort. Everyone just did their part.”
“She’s a fellow aviator who flew B-25s, P-47s and U.S. Navy Hellcats during the Second World War, at a time when many said women were not cut out for that role,” Jensen said of Bright. “Today we’re still proving them wrong.”
Jensen flew and the skies opened for her. Now she’s expanding the horizons for tomorrow’s pilots through the T-7 Red Hawk, which can accommodate many different body types.
“The design of this jet says a lot about the diversity in aviation these days and the strength of our modern day Air Force,” added Jensen.
The T-7A Red Hawk is an all-new advanced pilot training system designed for the U.S. Air Force that will train the next generation of fighter and bomber pilots for decades to come.
Designed using a digital thread, the T-7A aligns with the US Air Force’s Digital Century Series strategy by enabling the integration of new concepts and capabilities faster and more affordably through virtual testing.
The Red Hawk builds off the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, paying tribute to the legends of the past and the heroes of the future.
Photo credit: Randy Jackson/Boeing