Hear from the first Black woman to pilot the U-2 about how she overcame obstacles to make history

Watch on YouTube

The path towards achieving your goal is not always straightforward. And that was certainly true for U.S. Air Force Col. Merryl Tengesdal (Ret.) as she worked towards the goal of earning her wings and shattering the sky. In 2004, Tengesdal made history as the first Black woman to fly the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft – joining a program that very few women or Black pilots had participated in.  

Join Tengesdal as she discusses the challenges she overcame and the resilient mindset she developed to set herself up for success and make history flying one of the most iconic aircraft still in operation.   

This program will be presented in-person at the National Air and Space Museum in DC and will be streamed live on YouTube. Registration is required for in person attendance and encouraged for online viewing.

ASL Interpretation will be provided and live captioning on YouTube. If you require another access service to fully participate or have any questions about accessibility, please contact NASMPublicLectures@si.edu. To ensure the best experience, please try to contact us at your earliest convenience. 



Aviation Aircraft Military aviation Reconnaissance
Sponsored by
GE Aerospace
How to attend

National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC

6th St. and Independence Ave SW. Washington, DC 20560

Registration is required for in person attendance.

Register to attend in person at the Museum in DC.


Registration is encouraged for online viewing. Those who register will get a day-of reminder about the livestream.

Register to attend online.