September 27, 2005 (by 2nd Lt. Rachel Smith) - When Denmark graduated its first female fighter pilot, it was a special moment for the country. Now she is going through the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program here.
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.
Lt. Col. Allan Jensen, Denmark's senior national representative at the 80th Flying Training Wing, said his country began allowing women into its pilot program in the early 1990s.
"Allowing females to fly is a natural process of reflecting society," he said. "All other countries have allowed female fighter pilots."
The hard part, Lieutenant Bonde said, is getting through the Danish program, which is divided into three sections. The first half of the first year is spent educating students about the military. The second half involves attending a flying school where they screen potential pilots' abilities. If they pass, pilots then move to a two-year academy.
"Denmark's (program) is stressful, she said. "Here (in the U.S.), you have to study all the time, but it's the same stuff all the time so it's less stressful."
After introduction to fighter fundamentals training, Lieutenant Bonde will return to Denmark where she will be stationed at Skrydstrup Air Station to spend a year in an F-16 training squadron before she can move on to an operational squadron. Danish pilots must decide if they want to dedicate 12 years of service to the Royal Danish Air Force before they can continue their careers. She said family will come in time, but she is not in a hurry.
"For the next six years, I would like to focus on my F-16 training," she said. "There is no emphasis on getting married at a young age in Denmark. I would like to achieve some of my goals before I'd like to say hello to a family."
Over all, Lieutenant Bonde said her training here has been a great experience. She said being here with many other women going through training allowed her to concentrate on being a pilot rather than a woman.
"Maybe about 5 percent of the total Danish defense (force) is female," she said. "Here, I'm just one of the guys."