UT Grad Becomes First Woman to Command Air Force Fighter Wing

In 1993, Jeannie Leavitt became the Air Force’s first woman fighter pilot after a restriction banning females from flying in combat missions was dropped. This week, 20 years after she first joined the Air Force, she infiltrated the boys’ club yet again.

After logging more than 2,500 hours in an F-15 Strike Eagle and more than 300 hours in combat, Leavitt, BS ’90, has earned the honor of becoming the first woman to command an Air Force combat fighter wing.

A 1997 Outstanding Young Texas Ex, Leavitt studied aerospace engineering while on the Forty Acres and was a distinguished graduate of UT’s ROTC program.

In her new position, Leavitt, 45, will oversee the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, which houses more than 5,000 active duty men and women and 12,000 base civilians.

The 4th Fighter Wing is one of just three elite units with access to F-15E’s, the premier jets of the Air Force—a testament to Leavitt’s capability and incredible skill set. But she’s nothing but humble.

“I don’t see it as a ‘first’ sort of thing,” she told the Associated Press. “I see it as an incredible opportunity, an incredible honor, to lead a unit with its history and heritage.”

Col. Jeannie Leavitt (then Flynn) in 1997.

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