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Sat, Oct 30, 2021

Thunderbirds’ Only Female Pilot Leaves Active Duty

Will Continue Part-Time Efforts While Pursuing Other Prospects

While the Salinas Airshow was underway at Monterey Airport, in Salinas, California, some news was broken about #5 Lead Solo pilot, Major Michelle Curran.

Describing her impending career move, she said: "I’m about to make a big career pivot and will be leaving the Active Duty Air Force in the new year. However, I’ll be continuing to serve in a part-time capacity and pursuing some goals in the business world.” 

The groundbreaking pilot says she won’t be out of the spotlight for good, with projects and offers to be courted as she charts the path of her flying career. “The part of this job that I really love is inspiring others,” she said. “I’m hoping to continue to do that through this platform, public speaking, a children’s book…let’s just say I have a lot of goals and I hope you’ll continue to come along for the journey. I’m also excited to get into the general aviation world and hopefully also try my hand at helicopters.”

Since joining the Air Force, Curran has flown the F-16 with the 308th Fighter and the 335th Fighter Squadrons, until joining the Thunderbirds in 2019. She became a notable face for the Air Force Demonstration Team, as she took to social media to interact with fans and promote female empowerment in aviation. Often using the hashtag #GirlsFlyToo, she was integral in creating in-cockpit POV camera angles to the teams footage, a helpful stopgap for the 2020 season when many fans could not attend air shows in-person. While moving on from her role as #5, her marks will remain on the team for years to come.

Signing off, she said, “My presence here won’t end when I hand off the #5 and I have a lot more to share with you!"



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