The only female commander of a U.S. military flight demonstration squadron reached out to Forsyth County on Thursday, June 3, to inspire and motivate the cadets of the local Civil Air Patrol.
U.S. Air Force pilot Maj. Kristin “Beo” Wolfe, commander of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team, spoke to the teenagers and leaders via video conference. The CAP cadets are preparing to follow in the footsteps of officers such as her with a career in the military.
The Civil Air Patrol is an extension of the Air Force, providing communities with volunteer services including search and rescue. CAP also offers support during natural disasters and provides humanitarian services.
“Major Wolfe is kind and down to Earth,” said Eliza Vega, CAP Cadet Senior Airman. “She has inspired me to achieve my goals no matter what obstacles I might face.”
Wolfe opened with an informative slideshow presentation providing a wealth of information for the teens. Several of the cadets had watched her perform at the Atlanta Airshow in May and were in awe of her flying capabilities.
“The tactical pitch is one of my favorite maneuvers,” Maj. Wolfe told the cadets. “It’s pretty impressive to see an airplane sliding away from the crowd, plus the inverted passes are my favorite, too.”
Vega and her family attended the Atlanta Airshow featuring the F-35A Demo Team. Eliza and her sister Juli — a fellow cadet — were excited to learn that a female was piloting the stealth fighter during the air show.
As the military’s first female single-ship aerial demonstration pilot, Maj. Wolfe discussed how she worked hard to earn her position. Wolfe offered advice for college and the leap into the military’s Officer Training School.
“Do your best in everything you are doing — that’s for anybody out there,” Wolfe added. “Try to be a well-rounded individual doing things you are interested in whether it’s volunteering or sports and maintain a good GPA.”
Wolfe graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. A few weeks later, she began training as a pilot in the Air Force, earning her silver wings in 2012.
She served as pilot of the F-22A Raptor jet, and three years later, transitioned to the F-35A. Wolfe has logged nearly 1,000 total fighter jet hours in the two fifth-generation aircraft.
When she’s not flying, she enjoys water skiing and hiking in the mountains of the Midwest.
The F-35A Demo Team is made up of its pilot and 11 support personnel, including aircraft maintainers and logistics. Based at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, the squadron travels to select air show sites each year.
Air shows and public outreach allows the team to recruit, engage, and inspire the next generation of Airmen. In addition, they showcase the professionalism and excellence of the Air Force.
“I want to spread the word that any minority out there can be a pilot,” Maj. Wolfe explained. “The airplane does not know who’s flying it, it responds to inputs.”
Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.