Heart and hustle: This girl can fly.
V Teamer Linda Lee Maloney was one of the first women to join the club where you have to be thrown out in order to get in.
I don’t have control.
Those are the last words Linda Maloney remembers before she pulled the ejection handle in the cockpit of the Navy aircraft she was flying in. After the ejection seat shot her out into the open air at 15,000 feet, she lost all consciousness.
Joining the V Team.
A Supply Chain Program Manager, Linda joined Verizon last year. Her husband, Daniel, also works for Verizon and has been with the company for almost 20 years. Together they have a grown daughter, and two sons, ages 12 and 15.
“She’s really tenacious, and humble,” Daniel said of Linda. “She comes from a group of groundbreaking women in the military.”
Linda published a book called Military Fly Moms: Sharing Memories Building Legacies, Inspiring Hope, about 70 Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine women aviators who are also moms. She also owns and manages Women Veteran Speakers, a speaker’s agency for women military veterans to be hired as event speakers, trainers, and coaches. “My mantra in life is I’m a connector,” Linda said over the phone. “I love bringing people together.”
Before her family and her career at Verizon, Linda was a Navy aviator breaking barriers in the military, advocating for equal rights, and setting world records.
A beginning in the Navy.
After graduating from high school in 1979, Linda enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 and started out as an air traffic controller. After receiving an ROTC Scholarship, she graduated from University of Idaho with a degree in computer science, and then she was selected to train as a naval flight officer.
“In almost all of my classes, I was the only woman,” Linda remembers of her training. Even though she graduated at the top of her class, Linda’s career options were limited because of her gender. When Linda received her wings in 1988, there was a combat exclusion law in place that did not allow female pilots to fly in combat missions.
In February 1991, Linda and a senior pilot, Stan Parsons, were taking off in an EA-6A from an Air Force base in Florida where they had been assisting with training missions. The plane was climbing a bit slower than usual, and Linda and her co-pilot tried to troubleshoot on their ascent.
In the midst of their emergency procedures, the plane began to roll, and the pilot lost complete control over it. That’s when they knew they needed to eject.
“I lost consciousness briefly,” Linda remembers. “When I came to, I was hanging in my parachute, descending toward the ocean. I was rescued an hour later from my raft by a helicopter search-and-rescue swimmer.”
She didn’t know it at the time, but at that moment Linda became one of the first woman in history to be ejected from an aircraft during a Naval flight.
Making more history.
While in the Navy, Linda and her fellow women pilots did what they could to change the law excluding them from combat flights.
“The aircraft doesn’t care if you’re a man or a woman,” Linda said. “We just wanted to be treated as equals.”
They wrote letters to Senators and Congress people, and even made trips to Washington D.C to lobby for change. Thanks to their bravery and determination, in April of 1993, the combat exclusion law was repealed. Linda went on to fly many combat missions aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, the first West Coast carrier to deploy with women pilots.
“She is a part of a group of women who changed the tone of military aviation for future generations,” Daniel said.
This month we’re celebrating Linda, her incredible story, and her important contribution to women’s history. We're proud to feature her as part of our Heart and Hustle series, highlighting women who are breaking barriers and giving back, in and out of Verizon. We want to thank Linda, and all her fellow veterans, for their sacrifice and their service.