Student pilot mom says women can do both: have a career and a family

  • Published
  • By Lt. Alyssa Letts
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Student pilots at Vance Air Force Base juggle all sorts of responsibilities, making pilot training one of the most difficult years in their Air Force career.

Capt. Tina Bowen, a student pilot in the 71st Flying Training Wing, has another ball to juggle. In addition to her day-to-day duties in the classroom and in the air, she’s mother to a 2-year-old daughter, Scarlett Grace. 

Bowen started her Air Force career as a combat systems officer in 2015, graduated at the top of her class and became a navigator for the B-52 bomber, stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. 

In 2018, she and her husband, Ryan, found out they were expecting a little girl. 

Pregnancy didn’t change her goal of becoming a pilot. After Scarlett’s birth, Bowen applied for undergraduate pilot training and was informed, while forward deployed, that she and her family were headed to Vance for pilot training.

“I am a student like everyone else here, I just wear another hat,” said Bowen. 

A typical day includes flying training in the daytime, playtime with Scarlett in the evening and study time after she goes to bed. 

Bowen said securing a spot for Scarlett at the Child Development Center was really the only step she had to take here beyond that of her peers.

“There are a lot of moms with dreams and I want to encourage those women that they can do it all. You're worth it, your kids are worth it,” said Bowen. 

Maj. Erin Killion, an instructor pilot with the 8th Flying Training Squadron, is also a mom at Vance and emphasizes the importance of family in the military. 

“We are a stronger force if people are free to have the family that they want to have,” said Killion. “Kids are super resilient, and they can handle mom having a job where she’s not home for dinner every night.” 

The demands of UPT are extreme, but Bowen attributes her success to her support system. 

“Scarlett is my reason, and my husband is my rock,” said Bowen. 

Bowen is scheduled to graduate from pilot training March 26. From there, she will be returning to Barksdale, AFB for follow-on training in the B-52 Bomber. 

“My mom always told me I can do anything I put my mind to, and I want my daughter to know she can do the same,” said Bowen.