When I began working on research aircraft in 1988, there were very few women involved. Often I was the only one actually flying on the aircraft, collecting data. Over those 20 years, I've seen a small but significant change. The photo above shows four of the women who routinely fly on the C-130 aircraft in the VOCALS experiment (from left): Wiesje Mooiweer, Lindsey Shank, myself, and Katie Beem. Here, we're taking a break in the back of the aircraft while the mechanics are fueling the plane. These four female scientists were an essential part of a crew of 18 on the last flight. (There are a few other women who also fly not shown in the photo.) Since the C-130 aircraft can carry so much weight, it is nicknamed the "Hercules"; hence the "Herculean Women" title of this postcard.
It is great to see the dedication and abilities of these young women, who all work long hours and operate complex equipment on the aircraft. They are doing something very few people in the world get to do and are learning how interesting, challenging, fun, exhausting, and rewarding it can be. Perhaps some of you might be in a similar photo in ten years?
Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific