Suzelle Thomas

Suzelle Thomas, a US Navy Pilot, is the First Woman to Qualify Directly to Fly an F-35C Lightning II

On Sunday, four female pilots will make history during a flyover before Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs take part in their Super Bowl match at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium. Flying F-35C jets, these four female pilots will form a diamond formation formation with F-35C jets.

Lt. j.g. Suzelle Thomas from Birmingham, Alabama is the first woman in Navy history to go directly from earning her Wings of Gold to postgraduate training on an F-35C Lightning II fighter aircraft, according to their reports.

Professional Career

Suzelle Thomas made history when she became the first female US Navy pilot ever to directly qualify to fly an F-35C fighter aircraft. A 2018 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Suzelle also earned degrees in political science and security studies as well as her masters degree from Naval Postgraduate School Monterey California.

Thomas was on board one of the aircraft that flew over State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona during the national anthem before Super Bowl LVII on Sunday to honor women serving in the Navy as well as to demonstrate some of its advanced technological features. This particular flyover served two functions – it paid tribute to them while also showing off some of its capabilities.

On this episode of WIFA Waves, Suzelle shares how to turn her passion for fitness into a business venture and some exciting travel opportunities available for fitness instructors.

Achievement and Honors

Lt. jg. Suzelle Thomas from Birmingham, Alabama was named by the Navy on Saturday as its inaugural woman to go directly from earning her Wings of Gold to postgraduate training in the F-35C Lightning II aircraft, the service announced. Thomas, assigned to Training Squadron 7 at Naval Air Station Meridian received her wings at a ceremony held Oct 29 and received them from Capt Beth Regoli herself; Thomas’ parents pining her on while Capt Beth Regoli conferred them upon her. Additionally, Thomas earned nominating to Commodore’s List during primary flight training before becoming student of Quarter this spring by her Training Squadron 7 colleagues.

Once Thomas completes her training at the academy, she will report to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California – which serves as a fleet replacement squadron for F-35C Lightning II aircraft.

Personal Life

Suzelle Thomas hails from Birmingham, Alabama. At Episcopal High School she earned All-State lacrosse honors as both junior and senior. Following high school she went on to the United States Naval Academy where she earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science as well as security studies respectively.

Thomas has distinguished herself in both her professional and piloting lives. She became the first female aviator to transition directly from flight school into flying an F-35C Lightning II aircraft.

She will perform as part of the Navy’s all-female flyover team prior to Sunday’s Super Bowl in Phoenix.

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