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Combat Art Articles

The First - Trailblazing a Tradition for Generations of Aviators

  • Published


lithograph      in the press

2nd Lt. Kat Justen
Medium: Oil on Panel
Date: 2021

Coming from a family with a rich history of military service, Colonel Kathleen Rambo Cosand was first inspired to become a pilot watching the launch of astronaut John Glenn into space. In 1976, the Air Force opened pilot training to women.  Of the initial 20 billets offered, she received the sole Reserve billet.  Upon graduation as the first Reserve woman selected for undergraduate pilot training, Col Cosand went on to fly the C-141A and C-141B Starlifter an unprecedented 6,543 hours in her 30 year career.  Retiring in 2006 for service in the Air Force Reserve, she attained a many notable firsts throughout her career.  Col Cosand was the first female Reservist to serve as an aircraft commander, the first to receive medical clearance to fly while pregnant and the first to earn an air medal (May 1978). During the mid-1990s she transitioned to commercial aviation flying 757s and 767s for TWA and American Airlines until retiring in 2020.  Today, the Cosand family is a proud family of aviators.  Col Cosand’s husband retired as a colonel after 24 years as an active duty pilot.  Her two children also became pilots with successful Air Force and commercial aviation careers.  Col Cosand remains active in flying organizations such as Woman in Aviation International and received selection into the Woman in Aviation Hall of Fame.  Col Cosand has provided an inspiring legacy of leadership and continues to inspire and mentor aspiring aviators in and out of the Air Force Reserve.