A Woman in a Combat Zone

February 25, 2020

We dive into part two of our interview with Museum docent and Air Force Colonel Peggy Phillips. Peggy remembers her time in the military flying C-141 cargo airplanes, eventually transitioning to C-17 aircraft in 2001 where she became the first female C-17 squadron commander. As noted previously, she was also one of the first women to receive her wings in the Air Force. Peggy was later promoted to a tanker airlift control center, an operation center which controls heavy airlift around the world until she retired in 2010.

If you haven’t heard it already, listen to part I of The Flight Deck’s Peggy Philips interview: https://blog.museumofflight.org/flightdeck/peggy-phillips-and-the-wasps

Peggy and her fellow Women Military Aviators formed a bond with the first female pilots of WWII, the WASPs. They joined together to overcome stigmas and discrimination from the industry. Peggy remembers the Combat Exclusion Policy where women were not allowed to fly fighter aircraft, this was eventually repealed in 1993. She recalls flying to Grenada in 1983 during combat, being awarded a medal along with her entire crew only to have her award revoked because women were not allowed in combat zones… it took about a year and a half to get the honor reinstated.

Peggy addresses her concerns about how we still haven’t done enough to get the word out about women becoming pilots or similar roles. She knows there is a huge need to keep preaching these incredible stories of courageous women who paved the way for all girls interested in aviation. She lists some wonderful resources to help inspire girls and nurture the dream of working in the aviation field.

Resources for Future Women Aviators:

Women Military Aviators: Peggy is one of the founding members of this group of female pilots. Women Military Aviators offers scholarship opportunities to help women of all ages get proper flying experience.

Women in Aviation International: Provides networking, education, mentoring and scholarships for women in aviation and aerospace industries.  

Amelia’s Aero Club: This educational initiative was designed to inspire and nurture middle school girls from across Washington State in the exploration of science, technology, engineering, aviation, art, & mathematics.

U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol: The Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program supports those interested in an aviation, space, or military career and pushes kids to new limits.


Producer: Sean Mobley 

Webmaster: Layne Benofsky 

Social Media Specialist: Tori Hunt  



Topics: Podcast, FlightDeck, Pilot, History, Storytelling

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