In 1977, Janna Lambine became the U.S. Coast Guard’s first female pilot. She earned her wings as an aviator after she completed flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field near Milton, Florida. “It’s nice to be the first,” Lambine said in an interview published the following month in the New Mexico-based Clovis News-Journal. “I’ve never been first at anything before.”
The 25-year-old Lambine, the daughter of a retired U.S. Navy commander, started out life in East Walpole, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bates College in Maine with a B.S. degree in geology, and then decided to enlist in the USCG.
Lambine was admitted to that military branch’s previously all-male Officers Candidate School in Yorktown, Virginia. While there, she applied for and was accepted for flight training. Lambine began that training at NAS Whiting Field in January 1976, and subsequently underwent a rigorous program that included classes in aerodynamics, physiology, engineering, radio instrument practices, and visual flight rules; and physical fitness assessments such as swimming while fully clothed and running a timed 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) course through sand.
Lambine specialized in learning how to pilot a helicopter, but she was also taught how to fly airplanes. After she completed the training and was designated an aviator, Lambine reported to USCG Air Station Astoria in Warrenton, Oregon, and – while piloting various types of military aircraft (including the twin-engine HH-3F helicopter) – she participated in various search-and-rescue missions as well as pollution and fisheries surveillance flights.
Lambine retired from the USCG in 2000 as a commander. In 2019, she was inducted into the Women in Aviation International (WAI) Pioneer Hall of Fame.
Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Collection
For more information on Janna Lambine and other female trailblazers in the U.S. Coast Guard, please check out https://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2017/03/the-long-blue-line-a-brief-history-of-womens-service-in-the-coast-guard/ and https://www.womenmilitaryaviators.com/news/wai-pioneer-hall-of-fame-honorees-2019