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Trailblazer talks innovation, diversity, recruitment

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA., and Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., poses for a hero shot, Oct. 14, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Leavitt was the U.S. Air Force's first female fighter pilot in 1993, and is the first woman to command a USAF combat fighter wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Elizabeth Owens)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA., and Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., poses for a hero shot, Oct. 14, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Leavitt was the U.S. Air Force's first female fighter pilot in 1993, and is the first woman to command a USAF combat fighter wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Elizabeth Owens)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, talks with cadets assigned to United States Air Force Detachment 425 assigned to Mississippi State University, during a formal evening event hosted by the detachment, Oct. 13, 2021, at The Mill at Mississippi State University. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first major event hosted by DET 425 since 2019. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 14th Flying Training Wing command chief, talks with cadets assigned to United States Air Force Detachment 425 assigned to Mississippi State University, during a formal evening event hosted by the detachment, Oct. 13, 2021, at The Mill at Mississippi State University. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first major event hosted by DET 425 since 2019. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA., and Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., greets Col. Seth Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, during a formal evening event hosted by the Mississippi State University, United States Air Force Detachment 425, , Starkville, Miss. Oct. 13, 2021. Leavitt was commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., in 2012, making her the first woman to command a United States Air Force combat fighter wing. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA., and Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., greets Col. Seth Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, during a formal evening event hosted by the Mississippi State University, United States Air Force Detachment 425, , Starkville, Miss. Oct. 13, 2021. Leavitt was commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., in 2012, making her the first woman to command a United States Air Force combat fighter wing. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA., and Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., converses with female Airmen during a Lean-in Lunch, Oct. 13, 2021, at the 41st Heritage Room on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Leavitt became the first female fighter pilot in United States Air Force in 1993.  (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA., and Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., converses with female Airmen during a Lean-in Lunch, Oct. 13, 2021, at the 41st Heritage Room on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Leavitt became the first female fighter pilot in United States Air Force in 1993. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 14th Flying Training Wing hosted U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, Department of the Air Force chief of safety, Headquaters U.S. Air Force Arlington, VA, and the Air Force Safety Center commander, Kirtland Air Force Base, NM., Oct. 13, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., during her visit as a distinguished guest for a Mississippi State University, USAF Detachment 425 formal evening event.

Leavitt is the first USAF female fighter pilot and was the first female commander of a combat fighter wing.

During her visit Leavitt received mission briefs from the local flying training squadrons, hands-on pilot training demonstrations with innovative simulator technology and shared her experiences and challenges with female service members.

“You are able to be more effective when you train in the air if you are able to chair fly in a virtual environment,” said Leavitt. “When I went through pilot training we did chair flying in a very rudimentary way. We had to visualize the best we could.”

During her nearly thirty years of service, Leavitt has seen many changes to the force, specifically career advances for women in service.

“What is great to see is that any career path is open to women now,” said Leavitt. “When I joined certain paths were not, for example, flying fighters.”
Leavitt offered her perspective on the impact of diversity and the future recruitment challenges of the force.

“We are looking for a diverse group of individuals to join our team,” said Leavitt. “We want young men and women who have moral strength, mental strength, who can think critically, can act as a team, are innovative, we want to bring them to the team. We are the world’s greatest Air Force, but we can only stay that way if we continue to recruit outstanding men and women.”