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First Danish female F-16 pilot takes the sky

July 5, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The first Danish female F-16 pilot will feel the wind beneath her wings on her first solo flight today. The 27 year-old Line Bonde is the first Danish female-pilot at the controls of an F-16 jet fighter.

RDAF F-16B block 1 #ET-204 at a wintery Skrydstrup AB

Bonde, from the northern Jutland town of Billund, has been training in an F-16B, a combat-capable, two-seat training version of the F-16.

In 2005 Line graduated from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas, USA, as Denmark first female fighter pilot.

Although a few other women began the program with her, 2nd Lt. Line Bonde was the only one to make it through Denmark's three-year preliminary pilot screening program before making the trip to Sheppard.

Upon returning to Denmark's Skrydstrup Air Base in Jutland, Bonde joined the training squadron at Skrydstrup Air Station before moving up to an operational squadron.

Denmark began allowing women into its pilot program in the early 1990s.

Already in 1993, Maj. Jackie Parker became the first combat qualified in the F-16 with the New York Air National Guard, briefly after U.S. Defense Secretary announced that women could be placed in US military combat roles.

In 1997, Anne-Marie "Mie" Jansen became the first Belgian female F-16 pilot. At that time she was one of four European female F-16 fighter pilots. In 1998, a woman completed the Israel Air Force's pilot course and was assigned to an F-16 squadron.

Women had previously often not been permitted to be fighter pilots, because there was a risk that if they were unaware that they were pregnant, they could harm the foetus during violent combat manoeuvres that expose the body to extreme G-forces.