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Pilot mom featured in new book

Lt. Col. Lisa Berente, a KC-135 pilot and Chief of Safety for the 151st Air Refueling Wing, poses in front of a KC-135.  Berente was recently featured in "Military Fly Moms," a coffee table book featuring military pilots who are also mothers.  (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Lisa Berente, a KC-135 pilot and Chief of Safety for the 151st Air Refueling Wing, poses in front of a KC-135. Berente was recently featured in "Military Fly Moms," a coffee table book featuring military pilots who are also mothers. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

SALT LAKE CITY -- Lt. Col. Lisa Berente, a KC-135 pilot and Chief of Safety for the 151st Air Refueling Wing, was recently featured in a coffee-table book published February 24.

Military Fly Moms has been a work-in-progress for seven years. Berente said she got involved in 2008, through a friend who was already involved as a contributor.

"It took so long because the author wanted it to be done right," said Berente.

The author, former Navy pilot Linda Maloney, compiled the book after wanting to know how other women in her position balanced life as a pilot and as a mother.

"I interviewed more than 100 of my fellow sister aviators--all moms--from every military service, asking each to tell me her story--her path to the military and flying, combat experiences, her joys in being a mom, how she balances family and career, the advice and encouragement she would give to other women seeking a military or aviation career, and the legacy she wants to pass down to her children and future generations," said Maloney.

Berente said she joined the Air Force because she wanted a college degree, but it turned into more than that.

"I was smitten with the academic, physical, and mental rigors of the Air Force Academy," said Berente. "So I went to the Academy, was pilot qualified and sent off to pilot training. I think I was mature enough to feel lucky then, but I had no idea of how lucky I really was."

Berente's contribution to the book included the recollection of her time spent as a pilot and a mother.

"I never meant to be a pilot," said Berente. "I wanted to be a mom, and, along the way, do the best at whatever I set out to accomplish." In the book, Berente mentions several experiences from her career, specifically a deployment to Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch. After finishing a routine tanking mission, they were on their way back to home base when they received a call on the radio asking if they could provide gas to some fighter aircraft.

After refueling the fighter jets, they landed back at their base in Turkey and received the news they had save the lives of an entire convoy. Berente said, "It was Christmas Eve, and I was thankful we could save the lives so they could celebrate another Christmas."
After getting involved in the project four years ago, Berente said that her involvement was primarily communicating with the author by email.

"Communication was back and forth between me and Linda," said Berente. "I wrote my story and sent it to her, and then we had a phone interview to clarify details before the book went to the editor and publisher."

Berente said there were many similarities between her story and the stories of other women in featured in the book.

"It seems like we're all purpose-driven," she said. "It also surprised me how many of us were very faith-based in our stories."

Through her career, Berente said that she couldn't have accomplished as much as she has alone.

"When people ask me how I can do it, all I say is 'I don't do it all...' and I picture laundry that's been sitting on my sofa chair for so long that my children have outgrown them," she said. "I do fess up eventually and point out that I really couldn't have any of this without my husband."