Reserve Pioneer of Women in Aviation Celebrated through Art

  • Published
  • AFRC Office and History and Heritage

The contributions to aviation history of U.S. Air Force Reserve Col. (ret.) Kathy Cosand were celebrated this weekend with the unveiling of a fine art oil painting of her at the Women in Aviation International Conference in Nashville.

“I am so honored to be part of this historical moment with the unveiling of Col. Kathy Rambo Cosand's portrait today!” said Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, U.S. Transportation Command commander. “In 1976, the U.S. Air Force opened pilot training to women. After maxing out the score for the pilot exam, Kathy was accepted as the only Reservist in the first class of pilot-trained women in the U.S. Air Force. She has been shattering glass ever since.”

During her 30 years serving as a Citizen Airman, Cosand achieved many firsts to include being the first woman to fly the C-141 Starlifter, to be awarded the Air Medal, to attend aircraft commander training, and to receive a waiver to fly during her pregnancy.

“In her 40 plus years of flying, both for the military and as a civilian, Col. Kathy Cosand has empowered and encouraged the next generation of women aviators - and to her, we say thank you!” said Van Ovost.

The painting was unveiled by Van Ovost; Brig. Gen. Dana Nelson, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Mobilization Assistant to the Deputy Commander; Cosand; and 2nd Lt. Kat Justen, AFRC Office of History and Heritage combat artist. During the event, Cosand expressed gratitude for the distinguished guests, attendees, her family and AFRC.

“I would like to thank the Air Force Reserve for giving me the opportunity of having gone to pilot training and to stay flying for 25 years in the same career field,” said Cosand. “Also, something I wanted to show [in the painting] was the dual role of the service and the civilian pilot, and Kat illustrated that beautifully.”

The painting was created by Justen as part of the Heritage and Combat Art Division of the AFRC Office of History and Heritage. Heritage and combat art informs, inspires and connects Airmen into the history and legacy of the Air Force Reserve with the total force, joint and coalition partners.  The Heritage and Combat Art Division supports the Air Force Art Program and continues a combat art tradition along with combat artists in the other armed services that dates back to the Roman Empire.

“Through their brilliant pieces, these artists, especially today's artist, 2nd Lt. Kat Justen, not only provide a visual record of our history, but empower and connect past and present generations to our heritage,” said Van Ovost. “This painting provides a long-lasting inspiration for future aviators.”

For more information about AFRC’s Heritage and Combat Art program, visit