Breaking Barriers: The Journey of Chrisanthi Nikolopoulou, the First Greek Female F-16 Pilot 15

In the Hellenic Air Force, they don't distinguish between men and women. It's not enough, the officials say, to simply take off in a fighter jet, but the pilot must also withstand the high G-forces.

And they are absolutely right, as the pilots themselves say because in dogfights, the pressures exerted by the acceleration of gravity can reach up to 9G.
Warrant Officer (I) Chrisanthi Nikolopoulou is the first female F-16 pilot. She has participated with her single-seat fighter in dogfights and experienced the high G-forces up there in the Aegean. When asked about her feelings when going on a mission to identify and intercept an aerial intruder, she responds with remarkable calmness: "It requires reflection, dedication to your mission because there are risks involved." Indeed, the risks up there or in the outskirts of the Aegean are many and real.

She doesn't want to elaborate on the dangers, who knows why, perhaps it is prohibited by her service. She simply says that "flying an F-16 on its own is a unique experience in itself as each flight offers different emotions. However, the environment is so demanding that you have to be dedicated and focused on what you do every second."
For a 28-year-old woman in the cockpit of an expensive fighter jet, what matters is to have responsibility and excellent training first and foremost. Because before sitting in the cockpit of an F-16 and flying alone, she had to go through hard work as a young warrant officer. Four years at the Hellenic Air Force Academy, training at the ejector seat in foreign countries, flights with training T-41, T-2, T-6 aircraft, and then the F-16. But not alone at the beginning. Together with another colleague until she and her instructors, as well as her other colleagues, were convinced that she could responsibly handle the control stick of the fighter jet and fly alone in the sky of the Aegean.

A guardian of the Greek sky. Like her other colleagues. She had to remain on alert inside the aircraft for even half an hour until the "scramble" order was given for immediate takeoff. And when such an order is given, she must taxi, take off, and only during the flight will she receive the appropriate instructions for her mission.
Chrisanthi Nikolopoulou serves in the 110th Combat Wing at the heart of Greek air defense, in the "Ghosts," as they are called, with a motto taken from Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics," "The bravest are those who have the power," that is, "The bravest are those who dare."

The mission of the 110th Combat Wing is to maintain a high degree of effectiveness and readiness, with appropriate organization, personnel training, and maintenance of the equipment and systems available or transferred to it, to assume and successfully carry out air operations whenever required and in accordance with the current plans.

If one sees the birthplace of the pilots (men and women) of the Hellenic Air Force, he will immediately realize that they mostly come from the regions. This can still be seen even in the heroic pilots who gave their lives to keep our country free and sovereign. They all come from the regions. Therefore, the Greek regions produce pilots who make our country proud. These young people, with amazing training, calmness, experience, professionalism, and determination, "defend Thermopylae," as their superiors say.

Moreover, this male fortress has already been conquered, for a decade now. Even at the Hellenic Air Force Academy, for a long time, the commander was a woman. A challenging school through which one enters via nationwide exams, while the education is full of tests, lasts four years, and during this time, the Ikaroi receive military training alongside their academic education.

The first Greek female F-16 pilot, proudly wearing her rank insignia, stands in front of her fighter jet almost every day, inspecting it before sitting in the not-so-comfortable seat. She puts on her helmet, checks her oxygen, her radio, the wings, and takes off. For the past three years, she has been flying with her fighter jet, participating in several missions, not only in the Aegean but also in international exercises such as "Hiniokhos," an exercise that brings together a large number of foreign participants, as well as in joint training exercises with allied air forces.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024