Presidio of San Francisco (March 25, 2003) -- What role do female soldiers have in Iraq War? A top US Navy pilot who was once excluded from combat because of her gender speaks Wednesday evening, March 26, at the Officers' Club as part of the Women of the World art exhibition currently on display.. Patricia Beckwith will discuss "Culture and Gender Wars in the Military" at 7 pm. It is free.
A naval aviator who has logged 3,500 military flight hours, Ms. Beckwith is currently a flight navigator for Boeing and has piloted more than 60 different types of aircraft. She has been a test pilot and has flown several fighters currently in combat over the skies of Iraq. "Military aviation is by far the most exciting facet of aviation," she says. "My desire to fly combat aircraft is the result of my warrior personality."
Flight has been part of Beckwith's life since she was 13 years old. She joined the navy at 18 and earned a Master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from North Carolina State University. She is a retired US Navy Commander and was the first female to qualify as a crew member of the F-15.
The US Air Force was once so determined to keep women out of their prized combat aircraft that they thought of filing suit against Ms. Beckwith just 12 years ago even though she had qualified as test pilot. Ms. Beckwith has fought the military and their practice of excluding women from air combat. Back in 1991, the U.S. Air Force refused to allow her to attend F-15E flight school because of her gender
Things have changed in the military, or have they? The current role of female soldiers in the Iraq conflict provides the backdrop for Ms. Beckwith to analyze how flexible the military is when it comes to gender."