A crew of two women on Wednesday flew a C-130 cargo aircraft together for the first time in their careers, cracking the glass ceiling in the male-dominated Air Force.
Capt. Lee Na-kyum and Capt. Oh Hyun-jin of the fifth tactical airlift wing based in Gimhae, 449 kilometers southeast of Seoul, successfully completed their flight mission, marking the first time an all-female crew has flown the military aircraft since female cadets were accepted into the academy in 1997.
Lee, 31, had flown the C-130 in March 2011 to carry humanitarian aid to Japan when it was hit by massive earthquake and tsunami despite risk of radiation contamination.
|A photo handout from the Air Force shows Capt. Lee Na-kyum (left) and Capt. Oh Hyun-jin. ( Yonhap News)|
“It was the happiest moment of my life when I was first selected as the first female pilot for the C-130,” said Lee, who has a flight record of 1,486 hours. “I am doing my best to become a good example to junior female pilots.”
Oh, a 27-year-old bride-to-be, said she feels “grave responsibility” as the first to fly the military aircraft.
The C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft built by Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is now the main tactical airlifter for the South Korean Air Force for training, medical evacuation and cargo transport missions.
It measures 40.4 meters wide and 29.8 meters long, and accommodates up to 128 crew members.
All-female crews could be deployed in combat, search and rescue, medical evacuation and overseas missions in the future after they complete the necessary training, military officials said. (Yonhap News)