Trailblazer talks innovation, diversity, recruitment

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The 14th Flying Training Wing hosted U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA, and the Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., Oct. 13, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., during her visit as a distinguished guest for a Mississippi State University, USAF Detachment 425 formal evening event.

Leavitt is the first USAF female fighter pilot and was the first female commander of a combat fighter wing.

During her visit Leavitt received mission briefs from the local flying training squadrons, hands-on pilot training demonstrations with innovative simulator technology and shared her experiences and challenges with female service members.

“You are able to be more effective when you train in the air if you are able to chair fly in a virtual environment,” said Leavitt. “When I went through pilot training we did chair flying in a very rudimentary way. We had to visualize the best we could.”

During her nearly thirty years of service, Leavitt has seen many changes to the force, specifically career advances for women in service.

“What is great to see is that any career path is open to women now,” said Leavitt. “When I joined certain paths were not, for example, flying fighters.”
Leavitt offered her perspective on the impact of diversity and the future recruitment challenges of the force.

“We are looking for a diverse group of individuals to join our team,” said Leavitt. “We want young men and women who have moral strength, mental strength, who can think critically, can act as a team, are innovative, we want to bring them to the team. We are the world’s greatest Air Force, but we can only stay that way if we continue to recruit outstanding men and women.”