As a girl, Nicola “Rogue” Polidor visited Edwards Air Force base with her mom and developed a passion for all types of aircraft. “Instead of posters of boy bands on my walls during middle school, I had pictures of every kind of airplane. I was fascinated by all types – small, big, commercial, military,” she recalled. The largest photo was of the SR-71 Blackbird, which captivated her attention during her trip to Edwards AFB. “It was such a unique-looking aircraft that represented technology and speed. I was mesmerized.” That piqued her interest and was the start of her quest to become a military pilot. Polidor followed her passion and became one of six (now 10) women in history to fly the Air Force B-2 bomber. She is making history and inspiring a new generation of girls to “believe that they can do anything.”
Podcast Interview with Nicola “Rogue” Polidor
Polidor’s career path was traditional in the sense that when she decided to join the military, she went to the Air Force Academy, which led to pilot training, to flying the B-52 bomber, and to now flying the B-2. Yet, because there were so few women in her chosen profession, she alone represented 15 percent of the female population at the Academy, and is in the six percent of female Air Force pilots, of which only 10 currently fly the B-2 bomber. “Being a pilot is challenging, but not necessarily more so as a female. It’s just a tough job in a dynamic environment where the expectations are very high,” Polidor reflected.
Today, Polidor is a Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of Detachment 5 of the 29th Training Systems Squadron. As a B-2 pilot, she is at the center of bringing technology, flying, training, and developing combat systems together with her team. “The B-2 is a complicated weapons system, and it is inspiring to see how far we’ve come since the Wright brothers,” Polidor shared. “Being a part of this industry has been a dream come true.”
In her role today, Polidor directs the B-2 training system and its entire lifecycle from acquisition to modifications and testing. She sits right in the middle of it and sees simulation training and LVC as “absolutely paramount” to mission success. She operates in a complicated military atmosphere and “there are some training opportunities that are only available in a simulated training environment,” she told us. There are so many training opportunities that the B-2 can benefit from when it comes to emerging technologies, and Polidor is excited to see where the future is going.
In terms of inspiring a future generation of women, Polidor’s advice is to not hold back. “If you have a passion for something, go for it,” she said. “Every day my kids see both of their parents put on flight suits and go to work, and I want them to live in a world where that is normal and that they can achieve anything they strive for.”