by Jess Clackum
"I was driving around one day trying to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up when I realized that compared to the rest of the world, it was really amazing that I had so many choices. From engineering school to pilot training, I was used to being only one of a few women in a room. My parents told me I could be whatever I wanted to be at a young age and I just always believed it. I wanted to do my part to ensure future generations had the same choices."
Captain Mizell joined the Air Force ROTC midway through college at the University of Missouri-Rolla. Her graduation could not have been better timed as the Air Force needed more pilots the year she graduated. She was asked if she wanted to be a pilot and she jumped at the opportunity. Just before graduating with the Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Magna Cum Laude), Mizell attended an air show and had the opportunity to meet some of the legendary Women Airforce Service Pilots. Of that experience she says, "They inspired me to never let someone tell me I couldn't do anything. I still have a pencil drawing one of them did, signed by many of the ladies that day at the air show. "
Mizell's pilot training class of thirty people included only five women, and as the senior ranking 2nd LT, she was selected class leader. After pilot training she flew C-21s (Learjet 35's) out of Yokota Air Base in Japan and later HC-130Ps (Air Force Rescue) out of Moody AFB, Georgia. During her Air Force career, she earned more than 2,000 hours in the C-130 and Learjet 35 aircraft.
In 2004, Captain Mizell deployed to Djibouti, Africa with the HC-130s. She met and immediately fell in love with a man, a Staff Sergeant, whom she knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Because she was a Captain and he was a Staff Sergeant there were rules against their relationship but they were in love and so in 2008, they chose love over their careers and left the military for civilian life.
"I am still training aircrews as an HC-130J flight simulator instructor. I use my flying experience to train active duty crews in the flight simulator. This recently included helping Captain Christy Wise return to flying status after an above-knee amputation following a boating accident last year. She was the first female to do so in the Air Force and only one of six in the U.S. military to do so."
Following her Air Force career, Captain Mizell spent a year as Operations Manager at GE where she supervised, scheduled and trained technical directors to coordinate labor unions in the repair and maintenance of six models of GE locomotives (0ver 6,000 annually) for CSX transportation. There she also created groundbreaking operation procedures to standardize work practices which resulted in both increased efficiency and quality.
Since 2009, Mizell has been with Lockheed Martin serving as an HC-130 sim instructor and Courseware Subject Matter Specialist. Her responsibilities include advising instructional designers, multimedia experts and technical writers on courseware content and presentation for USAF air crews. During this time, she earned her MBA from the University of Florida, where she was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
In addition to being an HC-130 sim instructor, Mizell is also a wife and mom, roles she loves very much. She and husband Garrett have five children--three from his previous marriage and two of their own which were quite a surprise to them given Mizell had been told she could not have children. She is a happy woman indeed! Recently, when reflecting on her many opportunities and unique experiences, Mizell summed it all up perfectly in just a few words...
"I'd say life has been pretty good."