BMI's Fred Cannon, Cholene Espinoza, and BMI's Del Bryant. photo: Dana Rodriguez
Cholene Espinoza is a 1987 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy who worked as a political analyst at the Los Alamos National Laboratory until entering Undergraduate Pilot Training where she earned a Fighter, Attack, Reconnaissance Rating in the summer of 1988. At the time, women were not permitted to fly combat aircraft so she was selected to be a jet instructor pilot.
Cholene trained pilots from all over the world including the US, the Middle East and South America. She was then selected for a U-2 Reconnaissance aircraft try out, where she successfully won an assignment to the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, California, the only U-2 Squadron in the world. Cholene was the second woman to fly the U-2 out of three total in Air Force history. She has logged over 200 hours of combat over Iraq and Bosnia and was awarded the Air Medal and Aerial Achievement medals for her service. Cholene is also a pilot for United Airlines and has retained her military status as a Captain in the Air Force Reserves.