"It's never easy being the first. The trail that Esther Blake blazed made it possible for other women to follow.” — Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Horn, Air University Command Chief
As soon as women were authorized to join the Air Force, Staff Sergeant Esther McGowin Blake signed up — showing up on the first minute of the first hour of the day she was allowed to enlist, earning her the unique distinction as the first woman to join the Air Force. At 51 years old, Sgt. Blake was older than the average Air Force pilot — but Blake was a woman on a mission, determined to become a part of the military’s aviation branch after her two sons, both of them pilots, were shot down during World War II and briefly went missing. When Sgt. Blake’s sons returned home safe and sound, they weren’t surprised to hear their maverick mother had enlisted in the Air Force. After reuniting with her sons Julius and Thomas, Sgt. Blake continued serving her country until her retirement in 1954.