Science: Female Helicopter Pilots Are Better Than Men

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In February, TIME magazine shared a recent Army report containing a myth-busting statistic: Women helicopter pilots crash less often than men. This, of course, begged the obvious question, "Are female pilots better than men?"

Elle's terrific new feature reinforces the notion that the answer may be "yes."

The reasoning? For starters, response time. Elle references a 2013 study by the BMC Psychology journal concluding that "men were eight percent slower than women when switching between multiple tasks." Obviously, fast reflexes are a life-and-death matter when piloting an aircraft. Elle spoke to female pilots about their individual experiences in training and practice to see if the numbers rang true.

"Women have a better ability to be delicate and have a more graceful control touch," says Stephanie H., who commands a Kiowa chopper. So, in addition to reacting quickly, women may handle navigation with more finesse and intuition — a subtle, but crucial, advantage. Stephanie confirmed she was the only female pilot in her unit.

"I haven't seen anything that separates the male pilots from the female pilots," Captain "Tessa G." told the magazine. "In my entire experience in aviation, it hasn't been about are you a man or a woman, it is, are you professional and how did you show up to do your job?"

Such isolating statistics remain the norm. Only 14.5% of Army personnel are women, and females comprise a mere 5% of all commercial-airline pilots. But, those pilots tend to have one thing in common: Type A, competitive personalities. Hopefully, increased awareness of women's natural aerodynamic grace, along with female-pilot success stories like these, will encourage a new generation of women to take to the skies. (Elle)