Colleen Nevius

Meet Colleen Nevius, Captain U.S. Navy Reserves, Retired

“Do the hardest things you can possibly envision yourself doing because those are the most rewarding.”

  • One of the first two woman pilots assigned to and deployed with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 6, flying the H-46 Sea Knight in the Vertical Replenishment mission,  after US lifts ban on women aboard Navy ships 
  • First female pilot graduate of United States Naval Test Pilot School, Class ‘83. Assigned to Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Directorate as a rotary wing test pilot in 1983 -1985. 
  • Assigned to HM-12 Sea Det, then HC-2 flying the CH-53E Super Stallion in Vertical Onboard Delivery (VOD) Mission
  • Assigned to NAS Belle Chasse LA in various Reserves assignments, including XO ASWOC, and Officer in Charge flying the C-12 King Air. 
  • Former Executive Director of the International Women’s Pilot Association “Whirly Girls” supporting women in rotary wing aviation

Nevius comes from a military family. Her father was a Captain at NAS Pax River and her brothers and son followed her into careers as pilots. She regards her time at NAS Patuxent River as a rewarding challenge and expresses gratitude for the supportive mentors and peers who allowed her to excel in a male-dominated field. Nevius credits her success to her pioneering nature as a youth who sought to follow unconventional paths, counter norms, and prove herself in any situation.

Objects of Significance

  1. Lieutenant Colleen Nevius’ diploma from the United States Navy Test Pilot School. Nevius was the first female pilot to graduate from USNTPS on June 10, 1983.  
  2. Ear plugs and their original box found in the flight jacket pocket of Lieutenant Colleen Nevius. Ear plugs made by E.A.R Cabot Safety Corporation. Useful tool for those in the field of aviation.
  3. Items belonging to Colleen Nevius including her USNTPS name tag, U.S. Navy Lieutenant insignia, and silver USNTPS class of 1983 belt buckle.
  1. Brown leather flight jacket issued to Colleen Nevius when she first arrived for ground school in Pensacola. Nevius recalls how exciting it was to receive it quoting “it was so exciting-made the experience so real. We were going to be pilots! Naval Aviators!”
    • Look closely and you can see a Snoopy pin on the upper right patch. Nevius’ status as an aviator reminded her of Snoopy WWI flying ace, she saw the pin and adopted it as her little mascot. The pin has been on her jacket since 1977.
  2.  Navy blue flight suit issued to Colleen Nevius during her time at NAS Patuxent River.
  1. Green cold weather flight jacket worn by Colleen Nevius. Nevius received this winter weighted jacket during her time in Duluth, Minnesota while she was completing icing certification tests on the CH-53E Super Stallion. 

  2. Whirly-Girls International is an organization that supports women in rotary wing aviation. Colleen Nevius became a Whirly-Girl during her time at Pax River. She bought several of these mugs and kept one on her desk at all times. Nevius also gave them away to other women pilots.