Hi GirlMoguls, it’s Lily here! You know that I love talking about women who are firsts in their fields, as well as updating about Sasha and Malia Obama. Well, today I get to combine the two and talk about Major Jennifer Grieves, the first female helicopter aircraft commander in the history of Marine One, the helicopter for the president of the United States! A lot of you have probably heard of Air Force One, but might be confused to what the name actually refers to. “Air Force One” is not a specific airplane, but is actually the name that air traffic controllers use for any airplane in the United States Air Force when (and only when) the President is on it. Like Air Force One, the name Marine One is only used for helicopters when the President is flying on board. Flying Marine One is a big honor: there are only five Marine pilots selected at any one time to fly the president and his family, and Major Grieves is the first woman ever to be in the position!
Although it must be really scary to fly President Obama, Major Grieves says that her most stressful days are when she flies Sasha and Malia. What a huge responsibility to know you’re in charge of the Obama girls’ safety! But Major Grieves says that even more difficult is learning to land on the South Lawn of the White House. There are no runways to land on, just very small landing disks the Marines call pucks. And practicing to land on such small landing spaces with lots of cameras and paparazzi watching you can’t be an easy task.
Sadly, Marine Grieves will be leaving her position soon, as most Marine One pilots can only hold their job for about a year. Her last trip was this week after serving the President for 14 months. To honor her, the Marines arranged for Grieves’ last flight to have an all-female crew—the first in history to ever fly the president. I bet that must have been an awesome ride!