The Air Force says Col. Dawn Dunlop was the first woman to fly an F-22 and becomes the "first female fighter test pilot to lead an Air Force wing" when, on June 4, she takes command of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base. Prior to 1993, the Air Force carried a ban on female fighter pilots. Dunlop graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1988 and went on to the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards in 1997. She has accumulated more than 3,300 flight hours (including combat hours) and has flown more than 25 aircraft models. In November of 2003, then Lt. Col. Dunlop became the first woman to fly the Raptor after that year being assigned as operations officer for the F-22 Combined Test Force at Edwards. Dunlop will succeed Brig. Gen. William Thornton to assume her latest command.
After graduating from the Air Force Academy, Dunlop began her career as an instructor pilot in the T-38. Her work at Edwards has included test assignments in the F-15E as well as weapons upgrade programs and developmental testing of the F-22. Her service as the operations officer for the F-22 Combined Test Force supported work that led to that aircraft's initial operational capability. Dunlop's more than 3,300 flight hours has to date been accumulated in fighter jets that include the F-22, F-15 and F-16. She has combat time served in the F-15E, which she flew in support of Operation Provide Comfort. The operation, which began in April 1991, defended Kurds fleeing northern Iraq following the Persian Gulf War.