Asian American Air Force Pilot is the Real ‘Top Gun’

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 By the time Kari Asai was three years old, she had already asserted her independence. It became apparent one day when her mother Jan was helping her get dressed.

“She looks at me and said, ‘I don’t need you,’” Jan said. “And I just went ‘Oh, ok.’ I just let her do her thing.”

Over two decades later, Kari, a half-Japanese Yonsei who graduated as a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) pilot with distinction, is stationed as a captain in the Air Force in Cambridge, England.

“I’m not surprised she’s as mentally strong as anybody I know,” said Jan.

With a family full of pilots — her maternal grandfather and maternal uncle were a former U.S. Air Force pilot and Thunderbird pilot, respectively — Kari was no stranger to the service.

“I would say it was probably a self-conscious motivator,” she said about growing up “in a house with a lot of pictures of planes.”

In the Air Force, Kari, 26, is often one of the few women among men.

“A quarter of airmen are women,” she said. “Once you get to aviation, it’s maybe 10 percent of them.”

But she’s used to that.

“I was probably a tomboy in the sense that I played soccer, baseball, taekwondo,” she said about her childhood. “It probably didn’t help that my mom gave me a bowl cut.”

Kari began the process of getting a pilot’s license when she was just 15. Now as a captain, she has already been deployed to Libya. Read the rest here.