Little Known Black History Fact: Lieutenant Colonel Merryl Tengesdal

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Lieutenant Colonel Merryl Tengesdal dreamed when she was a girl growing up in the Bronx that one day she would be an astronaut. Today, she owns the honor of being the first and only Black woman to have flown the U-2 spy aircraft and has logged significant flying and combat hours.

Tengesdal survived the temptations present in the crime and drug-riddled neighborhood where she grew up. Instead, the future trailblazer focused primarily on academics. She graduated from the University of New Haven in Connecticut in 1994 with a degree in engineering.

That same year, Tengesdal entered the Navy’s Officer Candidate School and was commissioned later that year. She was selected to pilot the Navy’s Seahawk helicopter ahead of her 2004 selection into the U-2 Training Program. Tengesdal was one of 1,000 others attempting to enter the program. She endured the nine-month course and was selected for fly the Lockheed U-2S…

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