Wichita Falls, TX - February 8, 2008 - When she was 6 years-old, Jill Long, (EAA 721591) was at an air show and remembers telling her mother that someday she would perform in the sky.
“You can’t do that,” said a man who overheard. “You’re a girl.”
“How dare you tell her that!” Long’s mother responded. “She can do anything she wants to do.”
And Long has done just that.
She soloed at 16, bagging groceries part-time to earn money for flight lessons. She remembers her first flight and coming home to tell her mother what she had done. “She looked at me like I was nuts,” Long recalls. “But she said if I wanted to do it, go ahead. I’ve always been attracted to aviation — it just felt right.”
After her solo flight, her flight instructor, Ralph Riddell, asked Long when she was ready to really fly. He took her up and did loops, rolls and other aerobatic maneuvers. “I remember laughing the entire time because it was so much fun,” she says.
While Long continued her lessons, Riddell recommended she fly for the military. So in 1992, she went to pilot training and after graduating, flew KC-135 Stratotanker air-refueling airplanes all over the world. Eventually she moved to the A-10 Thunderbolt, flying more than 50 combat missions in Afghanistan. Today, she is a lieutenant colonel for the Air Force and works as a pilot instructor, flying T-37s and transitioning to the T-6A Texan II.
When she’s not flying for the Air Force, she flies her Pitts S2B bi-plane, The Ragged Edge. Long, better known as Raggz - her call sign from flying the A-10 - flies about eight air shows a year, exciting crowds with her aggressive, but graceful, routine.
This year, her plane will also sport EAA’s Young Eagles and Women Soar logos. Long is a supporter of both programs.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the smartest person, or the most talented,” she said. “But I believed in myself, and others did, too. That’s why I’m so supportive of these programs. We need more programs that reach out to youth and encourage them to follow their own dreams.”
Long has about 4,000 hours in the air, and has flown many airplanes. Does she have a favorite?
“My favorite is the Pitts, unless I’m being shot at. Then it’s the A-10.”
Jill Long got her nickname “Raggz” while flying the A-10. The name caught on, in part, because some of the crew thought she resembled Raggedy Anne. Photo credit: The Ragged Edge.
”The Ragged Edge” performs high-energy aggressive moves that are graceful when put to music. Pilot Jill Long describes the routine as fun. Photo credit: The Ragged Edge
Jill Long, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, says her favorite plane to fly is the Pitts S2B, pictured in front of an Air Force F-15. She added a caveat, however. If she’s being shot at, she prefers the A-10 Thunderbolt.
Photo credit: The Ragged Edge
For More Information
Jill’s Web Site
Watch Jill’s ‘Timeless Voices of Aviation’ interview
The Dollar Ride: Things a pilot will do for a dollar
By Maj. Jill Long, USAF
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