Emily Thompson of the US Air Force

The US military is responsible for a lot of firsts, breaking in new technologies to enhance our troop’s capabilities, developing new tactics and techniques to increase mission accomplishment, and creating tools and equipment that end up enhancing lives in the civilian world. Remember: GPS was a military tool first! Today we are saluting another first: Today we salute Captain Emily “Banzai” Thompson of the United States Air Force. Captain Thompson is the first female fighter pilot to ever fly combat missions. Thompson goes by the call sign “Banzai” when she’s in the cockpit of her F-35A Lightning II. That is one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, and Capt. Thompson is one of just a few female pilots rated to fly them. She serves in the 388th Fighter Wing out of Hill Air Force Base, Utah. “This is my first deployment … so for me it was a pretty big deal, the first combat sortie for me…of course being the first female, it’s a pretty big honor,” she said. “There’s a lot of females who have come before me and there’s a lot of females already flying combat sorties in other platforms. So just to be the person who gets that honor, that first, it just meant a lot.” Those combat missions were flown out of Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates just this month. Captain Thompson is blazing a trail as she rips through the sky. She will definitely not be the last female combat pilot we see, but she will always be the first. And for that we salute Captain Emily “Banzai” Thompson of the United States Air Force.