by Jess Clackum
For 1st Lieutenant Mackenzie Schofield, being a pilot was a dream she'd had since she was a little girl. While she was influenced by her father, an Air Force fighter pilot, it was was women like the WASP who provided inspiration for her then and now.
As a child, when her six-year old friends were in dresses playing with dolls, Lt. Schofield was dressing in a mini-flight suit pretending she was Amelia Earhart. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she replied, "I'm going to be a pilot!"
Lt. Schofield learned of the WASP when she was in high school. A history report opened her eyes to their courage and sacrifice. That was the turning point, she knew she wanted to follow in the footsteps of the WASP.
"I still say to this day, that if I was able to live in any time in history, it would have been as a WASP in WWII."
Lt. Schofield knew the path to being a pilot required a lot of work and sacrifice and so when the time came to plan her future, she settled for nothing less than the best--the United States Air Force Academy. Through hard work and determination she excelled and after graduation in 2012, she was assigned to pilot training at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas.
While on the road from Texas to Colorado for flight raining, she spotted the sign for the WWII WASP Museum in Sweetwater and so in a split-second she diverted to Sweetwater for a three-hour pit stop.
"On a Thursday morning, I was the only visitor there, I had the chance to read each and every sign and I really connected to the space I was in. I was one with the history I was surrounded by. Throughout pilot training, I was known to plan low levels and VFR routes over Sweetwater just so I could experience the same view the WASPs had seen so many years before me."
After completing training in the T-6 Texan and tracking into the T-1, which is the path toward cargo and tanker aircraft, Schofield received one of the top assignments--flying the C-21 out of Scott AFB, working with DV airlift and aeromedical evacuation. For her it was an extraordinary opportunity.
Lt. Schofield is grateful for the opportunities she's had and she plans to do her part to inspire future generations of women pilots.
"Every time I get to fly, I remind myself how cool my life is. And on days that we are chasing the sun, or taking off into clouds to find nothing but blue skies on top I have a moment of gratefulness that I am able to do this. And I know that women in history have gotten me here, it's my job now to keep moving us forward in the world of aviation.
I am so excited to see the work that has been done on FlyGirls. It's about time we honor and commemorate those who paved the way!"
We appreciate Lt. Schofield's service and we are inspired by her commitment to leading the next generation into aviation history!