February 2006 Mile-High Maiden
Prior to allowing women to join the ranks of naval aviators in 1973, there was great concern as to how a woman’s unique physical attributes might impact their performance.
How would their bodies react to high-G maneuvering, for example? Not to put to it too delicately, just how would breasts react during stressful combat engagements? Would they somehow interfere with or otherwise degrade a fighter pilot’s effectiveness? Or perhaps cause permanent injury?
To answer these questions, a highly classified testing program was conducted during the early ‘70s at the behest of the secretary of the Navy after intense lobbying from NOW, which organization wanted desperately to allow women in every combat venue.
Our Mile-High Maiden this month salutes the intrepid test pilots who gave so unselfishly of themselves to obtain this crucial data. In a rare picture from secret Navy archives, this Maiden—um, test pilot—uses “dummy” weights to gauge the effects of high-G. Though only a static test, the results, while inconclusive, were good enough for feminists to find their way into combat cockpits everywhere. The rest, as they say, is history. (scroll down.)
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