(CNN)The F-35 is the Air Force’s newest fighter plane, and the service says it needs some of its most experienced aviators in the cockpit of the jet.
One of them is Lt. Col. Christine Mau, who flew combat missions in the F-15 Strike Eagle in Afghanistan. This week, she became the first woman to fly the Lightning II jet.
Despite her experience in Afghanistan, Mau, the deputy commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing Operations Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, said completing her first flight in the F-35 was a special moment.
“It wasn’t until I was taxiing to the runway that it really struck me that I was on my own in the jet,” Mau said in an Air Force press release.