Air Force graduates its largest class of female test pilots and engineers in history

The women of class 2020A of the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base.

(CNN)They soar into the desert skies, piloting some of the most sophisticated aircraft the world has ever seen. They have an innate understanding of high-performance aircraft and are always pushing the boundaries on performance.

They are the small cadre of flight test pilots who graduate from the US Air Force Test Pilot School (TPS) at Edwards Air Force Base in California -- and this year they include a group of five women, a record number.
For the five already dominating the skies, it's no big deal and they just wonder why there aren't more females doing it.
Known by their call signs -- Hulk, Tumble, Booster, PsiPhi and Shade -- Capts. Casey Horgan, Rachel Williams, Sarah Vorgert, Kalyn Tung and civilian Raina Duncan are the newest female flight test pilots and engineers to graduate from TPS.
"There was never anything I was told I couldn't or shouldn't do," Horgan said. "I grew up with great examples of female aviators, my mom included, and all of her friends and there was no barrier there."
Flight test involves the Air Force's top pilots, engineers and combat systems operators working to develop and test the newest technology needed to maintain and improve aircraft flying qualities and performance.
Technical Director David Vanhoy said TPS graduates are trained to have a disciplined tester's mindset to improve the Air Force's aircraft capabilities.
Jet trails streak the sky over the Mojave Desert at night.
The five women graduated in a class of 24 students. The average number of women per class is usually one to two, according to Vanhoy.
Their class photo will share a wall with TPS graduates and aviation legends Gen. Chuck Yeager and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Years after completing the program, each man returned to the school to serve as its commander. They helped to establish the developmental curriculum and disciplined ethos the school still uses today.
The world's most famous test pilot, Yeager, passed away this month at the age of 97. He was the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound, and broke his own record by flying twice as fast as the speed of sound. Current students and instructors have the same barrier-breaking mentality as they push the envelope of flight tests, putting themselves at great risk every day.

Meet the women of Class 2020a

Edwards' TPS is the only Air Force test pilot school and is located at the world's leading aeronautical test facility. Based in the Mojave Desert, jets of all speeds and sizes can be seen flying above miles of dry lake bed, and felt throughout the day each time a sonic boom pulses over the surrounding valley.
The school only accepts 45 of the "best and the brightest" pilots and engineers per year -- divided into 2 classes -- for the rigorous year-long master's degree program. Out of a pool of around 250-300 applicants, usually less than 10% of the applicants are women, Vanhoy said.
Capt.Casey Horgan