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Back to Pioneer Hall of Fame
Col. Merryl Tengesdal USAF (Ret.)
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Since retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Col. Tengesdal has made it her mission to inspire and encourage underprivileged youth, employing the lessons she learned as a pioneer, leader, and mentor to serve as a fitness trainer and a contestant on the reality television series “Tough as Nails.” As the first and only Black woman to pilot the U-2 ‘Dragon Lady’ reconnaissance aircraft, considered one of the most difficult aircraft in the world to fly, Col. Tengesdal is hailed as a military trailblazer. Her memoir Shatter the Sky: What Going to the Stratosphere Taught Me About Self-Worth, Sacrifice, and Discipline details her humble beginnings and the odds against her.
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