The student news site of Vista del Lago

The Vista Voice

The student news site of Vista del Lago

The Vista Voice

The student news site of Vista del Lago

The Vista Voice

A Soaring Eagle…Literally

A Q&A with the Youngest Female Fighter Pilot
Arjia Sanfilippo
Annalisa Sanfilippo, United States Air Force Fighter Pilot
Annalisa Sanfilippo was on the track and field team while at Vista (Arjia Sanfilippo)

At the age of only 24, Vista graduate Annalisa Sanfilippo cemented herself in history, becoming the first and youngest female fighter pilot for the US Air Force. Not only is she paving the way for more women in the Air Force, but she’s also becoming an icon to young girls dreaming of flying fighter jets. In an interview with The Vista Voice, she describes some of the challenges she faced, what she hopes for the future of women in the Air Force, and how she feels about the position she is in.

What first sparked your interest in aviation and becoming a fighter pilot?

I grew up liking airplanes. I was obsessed with the weather. So, between the sky and the weather, I took an interest in aviation and decided I wanted to do Air Force ROTC. When I got to college, I thought I was going to be a weather officer in the Air Force just doing forecasting and stuff like that as an officer in the Air Force. However, during my freshman year of college, I got selected for a summer program.

I went to an Air Force base. I had to shadow Air Force officers in every different career field ever, and it just so happened that the base I went to, I got to shadow some fighter pilots. Once I got to do that, I was like, that’s pretty cool. I didn’t know that was something I could do.

And so from then on, I was like, that’s what I want to do. I kind of set my sights and worked my butt to hopefully get a pilot slot.

So really, it was just exposure (from) when I was in college doing Air Force ROTC when I really realized, Hey, I can be a fighter pilot, that sounds pretty cool. It sounds a lot better than flying a computer, being a weather officer.

Annalisa Sanfilippo, OU Sooner

Was your gender ever an issue while you were in training?

There’s definitely been some times when it feels like I’m being judged a little bit more harshly than my counterparts. You sort of set the reputation for every other woman around you. So if, you know, you screw something up or you’re not a good pilot, they’re gonna think, oh, women are shi**y pilots.

But there’s been awesome improvement over the last few years. Women going to conventions and trying to invent new things that’ll work better for us, whether it be our flight suits or the uniform that we wear fitting us better or even relief systems, like (how) to pee in the jet. There have been awesome leaps and bounds in the last few years, and I don’t think we’re exactly where we need to be, but I think it’s awesome that we’re finally taking those strides and creating new things that make it more gender neutral, right?

I think it’s awesome that we’re coming to a point now where hopefully it’s not, I’m a female pilot… it’s not surprising when a girl gets out of the jet.

What advice would you give to young people who dream of becoming fighter pilots?

Annalisa Sanfilippo boarding her plane

Don’t let anyone get in your way. Don’t let anyone tell you no. I think that’s a huge thing. Always follow your dreams, reach for the stars, and just put yourself in the best position for success. Work so hard in high school so you can get to where you want to be in college, so you can get to where you want to be after college. Have fun in the process.

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