Emily Thompson, a U.S. Air Force F-35A pilot, has become the first woman to fly the stealth bomber in combat, the U.S. Air Force announced.
"Of course being the first female, it's a pretty big honor," said Thompson. "There's a lot of females who have come before me and there's a lot of females already flying combat sorties in other platforms. So just to be the person who gets that honor, that first, it just meant a lot."
Thompson is currently deployed at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. Her launch was attended by an all-women maintenance crew.
"It was very empowering; it was awesome!" said Ashlin Randolph, a weapons load crew member and part of the four-woman crew.
Thompson, who studied to become an aerospace engineer, said she became interested in flying planes while in college.
"I sort of found out about the whole pilot thing," she said. "I could fly instead of build the airplanes and it just kind of took off from there."