Meet the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s First Female F-35A Lightning II Pilot

Sep 08 2018 - Leave a Comment
By Tom Demerly

USAF Reserve Col. Regina Sabric Is Also Commander of 419th Fighter Wing.

Colonel Regina Sabric, callsign “Torch”, of Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania has become the first female Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Col. Sabric is also commander of the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB in Utah, a unit she assumed command of in April of 2018.

Col. Sabric brings extensive tactical, combat and even special operations aviation experience to the F-35A and the 419th Wing having well over 2,500 hours flying experience across 10 different aircraft in 22 years. Sabric has flown the T-34, T-39, T-1 and T-37 trainers. She also flew the T-38 Talon in an aggressor simulation role and the AT-38. She has experience in the F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, including as an instructor in the F-16. Her perspective as a tactical combat pilot in the evolving aerial battlefield includes time flying the MQ-9 Predator remotely piloted aircraft and the secretive C-146 special operations transport when she served as commander of the 919th Special Operations Group. Sabric also served as Chief, Combat Air Forces Requirements for the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

Her operational experience includes Operations Allied Force and Enduring Freedom, and several deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle, the combined U.S. and Canadian homeland security mission flown over the continental U.S. to provide security against terrorist threats to key infrastructure targets.

Sabric is a 1995 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. She also earned a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from American Military University.

tps://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/First_Female_Reserve_F35_10.jpg”> Col. Regina Sabric with an F-35A Lighting II of the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah. (Photo: USAF Photo by Todd Cromar.)

[/caption]In her role as commander of the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB she is in command of 1,200 Reserve Citizen Airmen who train in F-35A Joint Strike Fighter operations, maintenance and mission support in addition to a medical squadron that supports the unit. The 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB is the only U.S. Air Force Reserve F-35A unit.

“My family can tell you I wanted to be a fighter pilot forever. I’ve always been fascinated by air and space.” Sabric told the Air Force Reserve Command media. “My dad was a private pilot, so he took me to an airshow when I was a little girl, and I remember looking up at those planes and being amazed. Ever since then I knew I was going to be a pilot.”

As a teenager, Regina Sabric went to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, an immersive educational experience for aspiring young women and men. She went on to earn a private pilot’s license during college.

Sabric regards her extensive education, career and experience in aviation as an advantage, “I don’t have a typical flying career. I’ve had the opportunity to bounce around with different aircraft and mission sets. I think it’s made me a better pilot because I’ve had the opportunity to experience so much outside the fighter world.”

Given Col. Sabric’s eclectic background in aviation and her command of the 419th Wing along with her qualification in the F-35A, she joins the most elite level of combat pilots in the world. There are only three women flying the F-35A Lightning II in the active duty Air Force. Col. Sabric is the first and only woman currently in the Air Force Reserve flying the F-35A. She is reserved about her experience though, especially in the F-35A.

“I’m still new in the airplane. Every sortie you learn something new, so as I continue to fly I’ll continue to learn. What the F-35A brings to the fight now, it’s lightyears beyond fourth-generation aircraft.”