First female Marine F-35B, F-35C pilots move toward flying

The first female Marine pilot of an F-35B fighter plane completed her course of study, just as the first female to fly an F-35C began her training.

Capt. Anneliese Satz is the first female member of the U.S. Marine Corps to complete the basic course in flying the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter plane. She will be deployed to Iwakuni, Japan. Photo by Sgt. Ashley Philips/U.S. Marine Corps

Capt. Anneliese Satz completed her F-35B basic course in June after assignment to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 at Beaufort, S.C. In prior civilian life she earned a commercial pilot’s license, and later completed flight training at Marine bases in Pensacola, Fla., Corpus Christi, Texas, and Meridian, Miss.

She will now fly the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, a supersonic aircraft designed for combat maneuverability and takeoffs from short fields, as part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, which is based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

“I’m very grateful for the instructors, the maintainers, and countless others at 501 who lent me their expertise and time while I was going through the syllabus,” Satz said in a statement. “This is a phenomenal program made possible by all of their hard work. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from all of them. I am incredibly excited to get to VMFA-121 and look forward to the opportunity to serve in the Fleet Marine Forces.”


Another female fighter plane pilot, 1st Lt. Catherine Stark, was assigned this week to the Marines’ F-35C fleet replacement squadron at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. The plane is a variant in the F-35 program, and until recently, the Marines have chosen pilots experienced with the F-18 Hornet for F-35C training.

“I guess I’m the first woman picked to fly the F-35C for the Marine Corps,” Stark said. “I’ve been blessed to get picked up for the F-35 Charlie. I don’t want to downplay it, but I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

ByEd Adamczyk