EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Continuing with celebrating Women’s History Month, we are highlighting Col. Sebrina Pabon, the first female and second flight test engineer U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School Commandant. She also made history during her tenure here as having the largest class of female test pilots at TPS. Pabon joined Tiffany Holloway, AFTC public affairs director for a question and answer session.
Holloway: During my research about you, I read that you are “no stranger to TPS and Edwards. Pabon graduated from Desert High School on Edwards prior to commissioning as an Air Force officer.” Are you a military brat? Did you know that you wanted to be in the Air Force in High School? What did you major in?
Pabon: I am indeed a military brat. My father served 26 years in the Air Force and we moved to Edwards Air Force Base right before my junior year of high school. I did not grow up wanting to go into the military, but I knew that college was expensive so when I learned about ROTC scholarships, I thought that was a perfect way to have minimal debt and a guaranteed job when I graduated college. I majored in electrical engineering and was not sure exactly what that entailed when I selected it, but as the years went on I really enjoyed my electrical engineering coursework and was glad that was the discipline I had chosen.
Holloway: I find it interesting to know what prompts people to join the military. It’s a great career choice that a lot of people shy away from because of what they see on television or movies. How long have you been in the Air Force?
Pabon: I only planned to stay in the Air Force for four years as required pay back for my education, but I had amazing jobs and opportunities that would not have been possible if I left. I have now been in the Air Force for almost 22 years and the Commandant since July.
Holloway: That’s awesome! Moving on to the next question. There might be a young officer or young enlisted Airman who is still trying to figure out their career path. What was your career path? What was your initial thought when you found out that you would be here at Edwards as the TPS Commandant?
Pabon: I started as an electrical engineer in the developmental engineering career field for the first 6 years of my Air Force career at Wright Patterson AFB. I then attended Test Pilot School and transitioned to the flight test engineer career field. I remained in the test community serving in multiple test organizations including the 416th FLTS and back here on staff at TPS. I also served as director of Operations for a flight test squadron and had the opportunity to serve INDOPACOM in the J8 working on future capabilities for the Indo-Pacific region.
When I found out that I would be coming back to Edwards as the TPS Commandant I was very excited and extremely humbled. This is my third time living at Edwards so it was a chance to come back home and support the team developing our next generation of test professionals.
Holloway: What’s your favorite course that is taught at TPS? Why?
Pabon: Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I would have to say the Qualitative Evaluation part of the curriculum where we give the students one flight in an array of platforms such as DC-3, UH-1 and HU-16. These flights expose students to aircraft with varying handling qualities and performance and are an amazing learning opportunity for them.
Holloway: Being in a male dominated field, what advice do you give up and coming female Airmen and Guardians?
Pabon: Just to be yourself and do the best job you can. If you are confident and competent your peers will respect you and the skills you bring to the team.
Holloway: Being a test pilot or test engineer is a very niche position, how did you overcome challenges faced?
Pabon: It was not always easy, but hard work, consistent performance and great mentorship led to amazing opportunities and the best job in the Air Force!
Holloway: Okay, last question. If you could go back in time when you were being commissioned at a lieutenant, what motivational one-liner would you give yourself?
Pabon: To do the best at the job I am given no matter what it is and to always take time to enjoy life!