C-130 Hercules News

The 130th AW's first all-female aircrew took flight from Yeager Field

January 20, 2023 (by SMSgt. Eugene Crist ) - The 130th Airlift Wing's first all-female aircrew took flight from Yeager Field, on January 20th.

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Airmen from the 130th AW pose for a photo at McLaughlin ANGB on January 20, 2023. Before the first all-female crew in the unit's history took off en route to NAS Key West's Boca Chica Field in Key West, Florida, for an aeromedical evacuation training mission. [ANG photo by SMSgt. Eugene Crist]

The aircrew, consisting of five aviators, was tasked with an aeromedical evacuation training mission aboard a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

Lt. Col. Kristen Hoeckel and Maj. Kelly Farris piloted a route from Charleston, West Virginia to Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. Chief Master Sgt. Debbie Turrill, Technical Sgt. Emily Knight and Technical Sgt. Autumn Davis served as loadmasters for the flight— the first all-female crew in the unit's 63-year history.

"Looking at our crew, I have a sense of pride, knowing that early in my career, I was opening doors and opening eyes to the concept that women can flourish in what used to be an all-male career field," said Turrill who started her career as a loadmaster, now manages the section as the chief and evaluator loadmaster.

The five aviators have already flown more than 2,000 hours and 1,056 sorties in the J model aircraft which the 130th has only operated since August 2021. Combined, they amassed more than 11,000 hours in the H model C-130 aircraft, previously flown at the unit.

Lt Col. Hoeckel, a twenty-two-year veteran of the Air National Guard said of this moment, "While it's a historic flight for this unit, and I'm glad to be a part of this crew, I'll be happy when it's no longer newsworthy." She poignantly added, "It's been a long, challenging road for women to be seen as equally capable. I just want to do my job, and be seen as a good pilot… not a 'good female pilot.'"

The 130th is estimated to be Initial Operating Capable (IOC) by the end of this calendar year which is the next milestone for the unit's transition to a fully capable C-130J unit.


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    Additional images:

    A "Fly Like A Girl" morale patch attached to an aircrew members equipment bag waits to step to the aircraft at the 130th AW, McLaughlin ANGB on January 20, 2023. Before the first all-female crew in the unit's history took off en route to NAS Key West's Boca Chica Field in Key West, Florida, for an aeromedical evacuation training mission. [ANG photo by SMSgt. Eugene Crist]