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Women's History Month: 1st Lt. "Claw" Pennell

Woman poses in front of an airplane

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. “Claw” Pennell, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron chief of training, poses for a photo in front of a T-38 Talon on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, March, 10, 2021. 1st Lt. Pennell agreed to participate in a Women’s History Month social media campaign for the 325th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

1st Lt. “Claw” Pennell, 2nd Fighter Training Squadron chief of training, has been in the Air Force for just over three years. Tyndall is her first assignment where she has been flying T-38 Talons since April of 2020.

“I love flying,” said Pennell. “Seeing the world from above is a surreal opportunity. I also have a love/hate relationship with the challenge of it, as it takes a lot of practice, study and skill.”

Pennell explained that the flying community within the Air Force is a very tight and supportive environment, but can also be extremely daunting.
As a female pilot in the Air Force, and someone who pursued her dreams Pennell expressed that one of her biggest role models was Harriet Tubman.

“She set her eyes on a goal and did not let anyone or anything come between her and its fulfilment,” said Pennell. “Although you wouldn’t necessarily think of her as inspirational to a pilot, the character qualities it takes to fly are similar. Like Tubman, tenacity, selflessness, extreme risk taking and confidence are qualities that inspire me and for which I want to be known.”

The Lt. explained that all it takes is time and experience to gain the confidence it takes to complete their mission.

“Confidence is a big [struggle] for me,” said Pennell. “I really want to have all the answers and knowledge as a leader and pilot and I struggle being confident without them.”

She also said that without the support of her family and her faith she would not be where she is today, living her dream as a United States Air Force pilot.

“Chase after your dreams,” said Pennell, when asked what advice she might give to upcoming female Airmen. “Don’t think of yourself as any different than anyone else, despite being in a male dominant career field. You are pursuing your goals just as they are and you bring just as much to the table as anyone else.”