Gen. Van Ovost doesn't think of herself as a trailblazer. 'Frankly, I never wanted to be 'the first,'' she said.'I've been fortunate that other people have broken those glass ceilings and I've been able to blaze right behind them and widen the trail.'
Despite early strides, women like Van Ovost faced substantial barriers. For example, the Pentagon did not lift a decades-long policy that prohibited women from flying in combat until 1993.
While she desperately wanted to fly at Mach 1 fighter speeds following undergraduate pilot training, she was instead assigned to the C-141B Starlifter, a cargo plane. But in 1993, she took a reassignment opportunity to become one of a few female test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, California, flying aircraft such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II–a favorite–and the first iteration of the C-17 cargo aircraft.
Goods or supplies carried by an aircraft or ship.
The An-124 Ruslan remains the largest military cargo plane in current service.