Pilot becomes first Danish female to graduate from ENJJPT
By 2nd Lt. Rachel Smith, 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 13, 2006
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- Sheppard will see a landmark in history, both for the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program and for one of its participating countries, as Denmark graduates its first female fighter pilot.
Although a few other females began the program with her, 2nd Lt. Line Bonde was the only female to make it through Denmark's three-year preliminary pilot screening program before making the trip to the United States.
Lt. Col. Allan Jensen, Danish senior national representative at the 80th Flying Training Wing, said Denmark began allowing females to enter their 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 Denmark's program. There are three sections to the program. The first half of the first year is spent educating students about the military. The second half is spent at a flying school where they screen potential pilots' abilities. If they pass, the pilots then move on 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 time so it's less stressful."
After introduction to fighter fundamentals training, Lieutenant Bonde will head back 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 give back 12 years to the Royal Danish Air Force before they decide whether to continue their careers or move on. She said family will come in time, but she's not in a hurry.
"For the next six years, I'd like to focus on my F-16 training," she said. "There's no emphasis on getting married at a young age in Denmark. I'd 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 at Sheppard has been a great experience. In spite of being the first female Danish fighter pilot, she said being here with many other females that go through ENJJPT has allowed her to concentrate on being a pilot rather than a female.
"Maybe about 5 percent of the total Danish defense (force) is female," she said. "Here, I'm just one of the guys."