2 May 1977

The first 10 female officers to graduate from the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Program, Class 77-08, with a Northrop T-38A Talon, 2 September 1977. (U.S. Air Force)
The first 10 female officers to graduate from the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Program, Class 77-08, with a Northrop T-38A Talon, 2 September 1977. (U.S. Air Force)

2 May 1977: First Lieutenant Christine E. Schott, USAF, was the first woman in the Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Program to solo in the Northrop T-38A Talon at Williams AFB, Arizona. She was a member of Class 77-08, which entered on 19 September 1976.

Northrop T-38A-55-NO Talon 64-13302 on takeoff at Edwards AFB. (U.S. Air Force)
A Northrop T-38A Talon two-place, twin engine supersonic trainer (T-38A-55-NO Talon 64-13302) at Edwards AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

The ten women in this photograph, along with their 36 male classmates, received their Silver Wings on 2 September 1977. They are Captains Connie Engel, Kathy La Sauce, Mary Donahue, Susan Rogers and Christine Schott; First Lieutenants Sandra Scott and Victoria Crawford; Second Lieutenants Mary Livingston, Carol Scherer and Kathleen Rambo.

Captain Christine E. Schott would later be the first woman in the Air Force to qualify and serve as an aircraft commander on the C-9A Nightingale medical transport.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 12.36.16
Above image from “Chronological History of the C-9A Nightingale,” by Cadet 1st Class Janene L. Drummer and Ms. Kathryn A. Wilcoxson, Office of History, Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Illinois, March 2001)
McDonnell Douglas C-9A Nightingale, 71-0874. (U.S. Air Force)
McDonnell Douglas C-9A Nightingale, 71-0874. (U.S. Air Force)

The T-38A is a two-place, twin-engine jet trainer capable of supersonic speed. It is 46 feet, 4 inches (14.122 meters) long with a wingspan of 25 feet, 3 inches (7.696 meters) and overall height of 12 feet, 10 inches (3.912 meters). The trainer’s empty weight is 7,200 pounds (3,266 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight is 12,093 pounds (5,485 kilograms).

The T-38A is powered by two General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojet engines. The J85 is a single-shaft axial-flow turbojet engine with an 8-stage compressor section and 2-stage turbine. The J85-GE-5 is rated at 2,680 pounds of thrust (11.921 kilonewtons), and 3,850 pounds (17.126 kilonewtons) with afterburner. It is 108.1 inches (2.746 meters) long, 22.0 inches (0.559 meters) in diameter and weighs 584 pounds (265 kilograms).

It has a maximum speed of Mach 1.08 (822 miles per hour, 1,323 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level. The Talon’s service ceiling of 55,000 feet (16,764 meters) and it has a maximum range of 1,093 miles (1,759 kilometers).

In production from 1961 to 1972, Northrop has produced nearly 1,200 T-38s. As of January 2014, the U.S. Air Force had 546 T-38A Talons in the active inventory. It also remains in service with the U.S. Navy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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3 thoughts on “2 May 1977

  1. Flew the 38 10 hours in preparation for checking out in the F-5C. Both wonderful planes and a pleasure to fly! Thank you Northrop and Edgar Schmued!

  2. 2 May, 1977 (female pilots)

    This was big news back in the day.

    (On a totally unrelated note, it was also my 32nd day since starting U.S. Navy basic training at RTC Great Lakes, IL)

    The restrictions put on females in the military were beginning to be cast aside. Now, no one gives a second thought to women flying all types of military aircraft, which is how it always should have been. (Just saying.) 🙂

    What a beautiful photo of the T-38! Bryan, you do a great job of finding these.

    MK

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