On February 22, 1974, Barbara Allen Rainey received her Wings of Gold, becoming the first female aviator in the history of the United States armed forces. She was also the first woman to be qualified as a jet pilot. In 1973, Secretary of the Navy John Warner announced a test program to train female pilots. Allen and seven other female classmates entered U.S. Naval Flight Training School on March 2, 1973. Allen was the first in her class to be awarded her wings. She was first certified to fly the Grumman C-1 Trader, then became the first jet qualified female pilot when she was certified to fly the North American T-39 Sabreliner. After marrying, she entered the Naval Reserves, where she qualified on the R6D (Douglas DC-6). In 1977, due to a shortage of instructor pilots, Rainey returned to active duty as an instructor on the Beechcraft T-34 Mentor. On July 13, 1982, she and a student were practicing touch-and-go landings when the aircraft crashed, killing both her and the student pilot. Due to the extensive damage to the aircraft, the cause of the crash could not be determined with certainty. Barbara Ann Rainey was 33 years old.


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