중앙데일리

Female pilot breaks into elite club

Nov 26,2007
Ha Jung-mi and a KF-16 fighter jet. Courtesy of Korean Air Force
Korea just got have its first female pilot qualified to fly the country’s own KF-16 fighter jet, the most advanced combat plane in the Air Force arsenal.
Air Force Captain Ha Jung-mi, 28, is joining an elite corps that had been the exclusive domain of male pilots. She grabbed the opportunity when the Air Force last year decided to allow female pilots to fly the fighter jet.
There are just 24 female pilots in the Air Force, with most flying the less advanced F-4 Phantom jet or other aircraft. The physical stress on a pilot’s body has been the main reason the Air Force hesitated to allow females to fly the KF-16.
The KF-16 is the Korean-made derivative of the F-16 originally manufactured by Lockheed Martin in the United States. The plane is built under license by Korean Aerospace Industries and is a single-engine jet fighter designed for air-to-air combat or air-to-ground sorties.
“I really feel great being able to fly missions with the KF-16 as the first female pilot,” Ha said. “It has long been a dream that become a reality. I hope I can conduct all my future missions successfully.”
Ha first flew the A-37, a slow support plane. The KF-16 has a top speed of Mach 2 and a pilot must be able to fly despite extreme gravitational force.


By Kim Min-seok JoongAng Ilbo [africanu@joongang.co.kr]



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