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    Not a lone wolf: A female fighter pilot’s Wolfpack journey



    Story by Senior Airman Thomas Johns 

    AFN Kunsan

    KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 8th Fighter Wing is one of the U.S. Air Force’s most celebrated Fighter Wings. Steeped in heritage and history, the Wolfpack excels at its mission, even with a constantly rotating roster of Airmen. While many are proud to call the Wolfpack their unit, one pilot is proud to be a part of another unique group within the historic wing.

    U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Alexys “Grizzly” Akers, a 35th Fighter Squadron F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot, is one of only two female pilots at Kunsan AB. Being a part of such a small group on a unique base gives Akers an interesting perspective on an ever-changing force.

    “It’s awesome to be able to have a growing number of women in the fighter pilot community,” Akers said. “It’s always great when you run across another woman or woman pilot.”

    Though the number of female pilots is significantly lower than males in the Air Force, Akers finds pride in her service, as well as the growing number of women deciding to join. According to U.S. Air Force demographics, out of about 11,000 pilots, only 3 percent are female fighter pilots, or about 330.

    “It makes me proud knowing that women are fighting for what they are passionate about,” Akers said. “It’s amazing seeing what they accomplish and not letting the idea of a male-dominated community stop them from getting after their goals.”

    Akers joined the Air Force with a sense of duty and need to give back to her country. Originally from San Diego California, she comes from a family of military history, with both of her grandparents serving as enlisted sailors in the U.S. Navy.

    Her drive to give back to her country has motivated her to excel in pilot training and achieve her dream of flying for the U.S. Air Force.

    “Training to get here has taken a lot of hard work and long days. The way here wasn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable,” Akers said. “The sense of accomplishment and the experiences I’ve had so far have made every struggle worth it.”

    Though Akers is unique as one of the only female pilots in the wing, she works hard with her team to accomplish the Wolfpack’s mission every day.

    “It doesn’t matter if you’re female or male, we’re all here to accomplish the same mission,” Akers said. “Every day we prepare, go fly, and come back to debrief and talk about how we can improve. We all work hard to succeed in this challenging profession.”

    Pilots like Akers push every day to ensure the 8th FW can achieve mission readiness and find a sense of accomplishment in serving their country.

    “My favorite part of this profession is flying, plain and simple,” Akers said. “But it’s all about giving back a little for all this country has given me.”



    Date Taken: 03.08.2021
    Date Posted: 07.15.2021 00:15
    Story ID: 399214
    Location: KUNSAN AIR BASE, KR 

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