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Jackie Parker

First Woman to be Assigned to a F-16 Fighter Pilot Squadron

It was a proud moment in July 1988 when Capt. Jacquelyn S. “Jackie” Parker became the first woman Air Force pilot to attend U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California. Those who knew her, however, were not surprised ˆ Jackie had learned to fly an airplane even before she drove a car.

Jackie Parker not only became first in many fields, but she started out as the youngest. At age 14 Jackie was the youngest student to attend the University of Central Florida; and at 17, the youngest to graduate. She saved up enough money to get her private pilot’s license but was too young to join the Air Force. However, with tenacity, persistence, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science, Jackie was selected as an intern at NASA and by 18 she became the agency’s youngest full-fledged mission controller.

Wanting to be a pilot since she was a small child, Jackie had accumulated more than 3,000 flying hours in more than 25 types of aircraft, from the F-16, F-111, F-4, C-141 and KC-135 to the T-38 and UH-60 Blackhawk.

Gulf War Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf presented Jackie with a distinguished award, “Gathering of the Greats” at the American Academy of Achievement where she spoke to young people and invited guests at Nellis AFB, Nevada. In a letter from Secretary of Defense Les Aspin in 1993, he wrote Jackie to say, “. . . Your accomplishments as an aviator have been no less than exemplary. Now as the first Air National Guard woman in F-16 training you are setting goals and standards for other women to emulate. I commend you for the years of hard work you have dedicated to this effort. . .” In June 1994, she was presented with the “Ground Breaker Award” by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, on behalf of Women In Military Service For America (WIMSA) for her achievements in military aviation.