19th AW all-female aircrew inspires future female leaders

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Maria Umanzor Guzman
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

An all-female aircrew assigned to the 19th Airlift Wing conducted a personnel drop of the U.S. Air Force ‘Wings of Blue’ Parachute Team and served as the C-130J Super Hercules static display during the Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too event, at Abbotsford International Airport in Canada, April 29-30, 2023.

Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too is a signature Canadian annual event that showcases the international partnership between Canada and the U.S. and their efforts toward the improvement of gender and cultural diversity. The event aims to inspire future female leaders with the limitless opportunities that await in high-tech science, technology, engineering and math-based fields.

For the opening ceremony of the event, Team Little Rock served as the flying unit for the Wings of Blue jumpmasters, representing the Air Force in a precision parachuting event.

The aircrew was also able to give the public a tour of the C-130J Super Hercules. The female pilots, loadmasters, and maintainers spoke on the different parts and functions of the aircraft and after, opened it up to the men, women, and children attending the airshow to explore the cargo area and cockpit and ask questions.

“I love it, we don’t do this very often so it’s nice to see an all-women aircrew and demonstrate to girls that they can one day be part of the aviation field as well,” said Capt. Nicole Marconi, 19th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment flight commander and C-130J instructor pilot.

The Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Municipal Police Forces, local and international search and rescue organizations, first responders, civilian companies, educational institutions and the U.S. and Canadian Armed Forces were all invited to participate and showcase the various aspects of aviation, aerospace, and defense.

For some of the aircrew, it was their first-time being part of such a diverse and inclusive event.

“It was awesome being part of an all-female crew for the first time, I couldn’t have picked a better crew,” said Airman 1st Class Olivia Smith, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief. “It warmed my heart being able to see so many little girls come by and ask questions. I think we were very inspirational to those kids by emphasizing to them that not only can guys fly and fix planes, but us women can as well.”

The crew agreed that they believe the event left a positive impact on the future female generation in attendance while also demonstrating the strength and airpower of the U.S. and its allies across the globe.

“It was an honor to be part of this crew and represent for the C-130J Super Hercules and Little Rock AFB,” said Airman 1st Class Candis Ruiz, 41st Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “For future females in the Air Force, this event gave a lot of transparency and inspiration. There were a lot of questions and interests that I hope continued to motivate people that they can do and be anything that they want to be.”