Saturday, 16 March at 1500 • Long Beach Convention Center
WMA is proud to present another exciting, and sometimes crazy, Combat Operations Panel educational session at WAI. This is a perfect opportunity for friends and family to meet women who lead the way in military combat operations. And, of course, you just must hear the latest “There I was...” from our women on the front lines. Each panelist will present a brief summary of her background and all panelists will gladly answer questions.
MEET OUR PANELISTS
Major Rachael “Banshee” Winiecki, USAF: A-10, F-16, F-35 Test Pilot
Major Winiecki is a USAF F-35 Test Pilot. She conducts elevated risk developmental flight test of unproven aircraft systems, identifies deficiencies, and certifies aircraft safety of flight. Additionally, she plans, executes, and reports on flight tests to include mission system evaluation, weapons certification, envelope expansion, flying qualities and handling qualities characterization. Major Winiecki was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). She completed three operational flying assignments in the A-10C including overseas deployments to the Pacific theater, Southwest Asia, and Eastern Europe. Prior to her current role she served as an F-16 Test Pilot for both U.S. and Foreign Military Sales variants. Major Winiecki holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering, and a M.S. in Flight Test Engineering. She a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School and is a senior pilot with over 2,000 hours in over 45 types of aircraft.
Major Caitlin Reilly, USAF, U-28, C-130H, PC-12
Major Caitlin Reilly is a U-28A Evaluator Pilot and Executive Officer to the Director of Operations, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Florida. She supports implementation of operational command policy for worldwide special operations units including 19,000 personnel, 237 aircraft, and $16 billion of assets. Major Reilly received her commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 2007 and attended pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma and Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. Her first operational assignment was to the 2d Airlift Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, NC where she flew the C-130H in Air Mobility Command from 2010-2013. In 2013, she joined Air Force Special Operations Command and moved to Hurlburt Field, Florida to fly the U-28A. She is a senior pilot with over 3,400 hours in the C-130H, PC-12, and U-28A aircraft, and has flown combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and several data masked locations over nine deployments.
Major Laurel Koltonski, USAFR, C-130H, B-52
Maj Laurel Koltonski was commissioned through ROTC from the University of Kansas in 2007. She attended Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer training at Randolph AFB, TX. Upon graduation she served as an Electronic Warfare Officer on the B-52 at Minot AFB, ND. She has deployed twice for Continuous Bomber Presence, supporting nuclear defense. From 2012 to 2015 she was assigned as an Instructor for Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training school at NAS Pensacola, FL, and has over 1,200 hours as a Combat Systems Officer. In 2016, she transitioned from Active Duty to the Air Force Reserve Command and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training. She is currently a C-130H pilot at Maxwell AFB, AL.
LT Aubrey “KBAR” Bennett, USN, F/A-18F
LT Bennett, from Houston, TX, is a 2011 graduate of The United States Naval Academy. Following her winging as a Naval Flight Officer (NFO), she was selected as a Weapons System Officer for the F/A-18F Super Hornet. The next five and a half years were spent at the Fleet Replacement Squadron, VFA-122, and The Black Knights of VFA-154 in Lemoore, CA. LT Bennett has deployed to the North Arabian Gulf on the USS Nimitz and flown combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria. She is currently an F/A-18 instructor with VFA-106, The Gladiators, in Virginia Beach, VA, and pursuing her masters at Penn State. She was "issued" her husband, LT Matthew “Scoop” Bennett, during flight school, whom is also an F/A-18F WSO and a TOPGUN graduate.
Captain Fidan Thornburg, USAFR: C-130, C-17, contract ISR King Air
Captain Fidan Thornburg moved to the U.S. in 2002 from a former Soviet Union Republic to achieve her goal of becoming a military pilot. In 2008, she obtained her citizenship and BS in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. She was commissioned in 2010, and flies C-130H "Hercules" for the Alaska Air National Guard. She has been deployed twice to the Persian Gulf, in 2013 and 2016, in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve. She has deployed twice as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan, flying an ISR King Air, in 2014 and 2015. At the retirement of her C-130 and the closure of her squadron, she joined Air Force Reserve Command flying the C-17 at McChord AFB in Washington State.
If you have questions or would like further information EMAIL Flight Lead and Moderator, Kerry Sheridan.