Female Pilot Led UAE Airstrikes Against ISIS
Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, 35, was first woman to join Emirates' air force
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2014 3:10 PM CDT
Updated Sep 25, 2014 3:25 PM CDT
This 2013 photo provided by the Emirates News Agency shows Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, the UAE female fighter-jet pilot who led airstrikes against ISIS this week in Syria.   (AP Photo/Emirates News Agency, WAM)

(Newser) – If a country's going to send military pilots to fight ISIS, it's going to send its very best. Which is why the United Arab Emirates selected Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri, 35—the first female fighter pilot in the Emirates air force—to lead one of its airstrike missions in Syria on Monday, ABC News reports. The UAE ambassador to the US appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe today and confirmed Mansouri's involvement, saying, "She is [a] fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot, and she led the mission." Mansouri—who was born in Abu Dhabi and has seven siblings, according to Deraa Al Watan magazine via ABC—says that she tried not to focus on the male pilots sitting next to her during her intensive training.

"Competing with oneself is conducive to continued learning," she says. She also holds a degree in English literature from Khalifa bin Zayed Air College, the AP reports. "Do you want a model or a society that allows women to become ministers in government, female fighter pilots, business executives, artists?" the ambassador asked, as per AP. "Or do you want a society where if a woman doesn't cover up in public she's beaten or she's lashed or she's raped?" Two male panelists on Fox News' The Five are catching flak from Gawker and others over their women-can't-park and boob jokes in the wake of the report.