First female African-American U-2 pilot selected for Colonel at Beale AFB

Feb 11, 2015 4:41 PM by News Staff, Photo via United States Air Force

The United States' first and only African American woman to fly the Air Force's elite U-2 spy stealth plane has been selected for promotion to Colonel, Beale Air Force Base officials announced Wednesday.

The promotion accentuates an already illustrious career for Lt Col Merryl Tengesdal.

Tengesdal, who is originally from the Bronx, New York, began her career in the Navy in 1994 and then cross-commissioned into the Air Force in 2004 specifically to join the U-2 program at Beale to help pursue her dream of becoming an astronaut. She has logged more than 3,400 flight hours and has flown 330 combat hours in various combat zones around the world.

Tengesdal is one of only five women and three African Americans ever accepted into the U-2 Program.

"I have been truly blessed to have experienced all I have during my time in the military," Tengesdal said in a Beale Air Force Base Public Affairs article by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings.

Tengesdal says many women have contacted her to tell her they are proud of her accomplishments and she is an inspiration to them. "My career field is very male dominated, but I hope I have helped other females with similar aspirations to realize this is an option. I think we are all limitless as to what we can accomplish."

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