Photo Information

Capt. Charlene Wyman, a pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 462, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, stands with a CH-53E Super Stallion aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Nov. 29. Wyman, who has been a pilot for her entire seven-year career, joined the Marine Corps to make a difference to her country after Sept. 11.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

The fewer, prouder: women pilots fly alongside men

3 Dec 2012 | Lance Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – When an economics major in her freshman year stepped into class and saw a video of a plane hitting the World Trade Centers the feeling of helplessness overwhelmed her. She knew then she had to do something to make a difference.

She decided when hearing about the possibilities of being a pilot in the Marine Corps, that she would use that to aid her country in a time of need. This person, now a Marine pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 462, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is Capt. Charlene Wyman.

After seven years in the Marine Corps, spending her entire career as a CH-53E Super Stallion pilot, she doesn’t look at her job as work, she sees it as fun.

“As a woman, I wanted to be in direct support of the troops on the ground,” said Wyman, a Denver, Colo., native. “I wanted to be as close to the action as possible.”

On her first deployment where she spent three months in Iraq and three months in Afghanistan, she was one of four female pilots, which was an anomaly, she explained.

Upon returning, there was only one other female pilot in her squadron.

“In older generations it may have been a bigger deal,” said Wyman. “But, nowadays women are seen in many different jobs that they wouldn’t have been in before and it doesn’t faze anyone.”

The friendships made in the Marine Corps are tighter than those possibly made in a civilian job. As a pilot, the opportunities to work closely with officers and enlisted closely help to pass knowledge and make the team as a whole stronger, explained Wyman.

She is very personable and it is easy to ask her questions because she is knowledgeable and can explain things in a manner that is easy to understand, added Capt. John Dextor, a pilot and operations officer with HMM-462, 3rd MAW and a Norfolk, Va., native.

As a pilot with qualifications to instruct others in training and weapons and tactics, she thoroughly passes her knowledge to anyone who can benefit from it, explained Dextor.

“She is very attention-to-detail oriented,” said Dextor. “Working as operations officers together, she coordinates about 40 pilots and matches what they need with classes, students and instructors to get the schedule finished.”

Wyman is proud to be in a squadron that grows and works as a team. She benefits from others as well as passes her knowledge to colleagues. Without them, she would not have gotten the opportunity to fly with Headquarters Marine Corps Squadron 1 in the future.

“She is going to be a pilot with HMX-1.” said Dextor. “That is a testament to her skill level and potential for the future,” said Dextor. “It is very competitive and a very selective process.”

As a pilot with many opportunities, Wyman would not change it.

“I didn’t plan on staying in for this long.” said Wyman. “However, I didn’t know it was going to be this much fun. I know I’ll be in HMX-1 for four years, so if I still love it, I will keep doing this. I don’t honestly know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t here.”