NEW CENTURY, Kan. — When the KC Air Show takes flight Saturday from the New Century AirCenter in New Century, Kansas, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds' lead solo female pilot will be in the air.
“I don't feel like I stick out from everyone else at this point, but I am reminded of it every time we go to a show," Maj. Michelle Curran said.
Curran is the lead solo pilot. A fitting role given her desire for a challenge.
“Well, if I'm going to be in the Air Force, I want to do something fun, exciting and challenging," she said, "and so pilot's kind of a natural fit for those things."
In the U.S., only about 5% of airline and commercial pilots are women. Being the only female pilot for the Thunderbirds, Curran told 41 Action News she hopes her presence in the sky inspires young girls to reach new heights.
“Don't let other people set expectations for you," she said. "You're going to have big dreams and there's going to be people that doubt you, but that's their issue, not yours. And even those of us who are in successful roles at this point, we still have self doubt. We still have challenges. We still get stressed out and overwhelmed. So, I want them to realize it's something you can actually do."
The Thunderbirds also will share the sky with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, and Lt. Kristin Fulk and her team are making sure their pilots are ready to fly.
“My father did 30 years in the military," Fulk said. "So the military is really all I know. It's really my life."
Following in her fathers footsteps, Fulk enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2006. She then enrolled in college, paid for by the Navy, and now is working on her Ph.D.
“We set our own limitations, so if you don't think that you'll be able to achieve something, you're telling yourself from the start that you're not going to be able to accomplish something, where you need to have a different mindset and an outlook that you will achieve that goal that you set," Fulk said.
In 2020, the KC Air Show was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information regarding the 2021 KC Air Show, visit the KC Air Show website.