Air Force pilot mom shares how she balances flying and motherhood

Lt. Col. Rachel Metzgar remembers what it was like stepping into the cockpit for the first time.

“I was really scared, a little intimidated, a lot intimidated, but I knew if I didn’t do it I would regret it,” she said.

That outlook has served her well in her life even as she made the rare decision to become a military mom. Assigned to the 97th Airlift Squadron at JBLM, she’s been an Air Force pilot for more than 23 years - the last 15 as a reservist. Her children are now 13 and 10.

“I searched for that checklist as a mother because we have checklists in the Air Force and in flying and if you follow the checklists, it keeps you out of danger. I searched for that checklist for years as a parent, checklist how to be the perfect, patient parent and a ‘how to have kind loving children.’ It doesn’t exist,” Metzgar explained.

The mission isn’t easy, and she readily admits she has a large support system that she relies on.

“You just have to, every day you just have to wake up and do your best. And if you don’t have the best flight, if you are impatient with your children, give yourself some grace. It’s okay and tomorrow’s another day,” she added.

Currently, her squadron is only about 10% women. Five of them are either already moms or are expecting.

“I love providing them the support I guess I didn’t have, not that it was anybody’s fault, but I just didn’t have pilot moms when I had my kids,” Metzgar said.

Forging a path forward - for more military moms.