Air Force pilot among 1st to fly supersonic plane while pregnant
The Air Force clarified its policy for pregnant crew members last year.
An Air Force pilot has made history by becoming one of the first Air Force service members to fly a supersonic aircraft while pregnant.
Maj. Lauren Olme, assistant director of operations for the 77th Weapons Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas, flew a B-1 Lancer, a supersonic bomber. Olme's child has also become "one of the first babies in the Department of Defense to clock 9.2 hours in a supersonic aircraft," according to an Air Force press release.
"I can't overexpress how amazing it is that pregnant women now have the opportunity to fly in all types of aircraft," Lauren Olme said in a statement. "It's a very personal decision that [my husband] Mark and I made together because there are risks involved in flying the B-1 while pregnant but after conferring with Air Force and civilian medical doctors, we felt comfortable with me flying for a few weeks."
Olme is married to Maj. Mark Olme, a bomb wing weapons officer with the 7th Operations Support Squadron, also based at Dyess. The couple are expecting their child in April.
Both Lauren and Mark Olme are U.S. Air Force Academy graduates, trained to fly B-1 bombers and completed the Air Force's weapons school course, similar to the Navy's "Top Gun" program.
"Lauren is an amazing lady, deploying a unit, developing a schedule, creating exercise scenarios, being a great pilot and leader, all while building a human," Mark Olme said in a statement. "I am not sure how she does it all, and with poise and grace. I am extremely proud of her and I can't wait to tell our child they got to fly supersonic in formation with mommy and daddy."
The Air Force clarified its policy last year and removed some restrictions for pregnant Air Force members. Air Force members can now "voluntarily request to fly during pregnancy" and do not need a waiver "to fly in the second trimester with an uncomplicated pregnancy in a non-ejection seat aircraft if all flight safety criteria are met."
"All pregnant aircrew are authorized to apply for a waiver regardless of trimester, aircraft or flight profile," the Air Force stated in an April 2022 news release.
"These changes are a significant step in the right direction to empowering every member of our team to serve to their full potential," Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said in a statement at the time. "The Department of the Air Force’s most important asset is our people. We are focused on eliminating barriers that hamper the ability to attract and retain the most talented individuals who want to serve."
According to Lauren Olme, she was cleared by her medical team to fly until her 22-week mark and seized the opportunity to do something she loved.
"I'm honored to be one of the first to fly in an ejection seat aircraft while pregnant," Lauren Olme said. "I wouldn't have been able to do it if women in the Air Force didn't advocate for these types of policy changes, so to live out a policy change that other women worked so hard to enact is truly an honor."
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