Judith Neuffer

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Judith Ann Neuffer
LT Judith Neuffer pre-flight check 1974.jpg
Nickname(s) Judy
Born 13 June 1948
Wooster, Ohio
Allegiance American
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1973-1998
Rank Captain
Awards Naval Awards include 4 Naval Meritorious Service Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal. NASA Medals include the Exceptional Service Medal, Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the NASA Outstanding Management Award.
Other work Senior Technical Manager, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Judith Neuffer "Judy" Bruner (born Judith Ann Neuffer on 13 June 1948) is an American naval aviator and NASA manager, the first woman to serve as a P-3 pilot in the United States Navy.[1] Part of the first group of eight women receiving orders for Navy Flight Training in 1973, she was the first of the six who went on to earn their pilot's wings. She was the first female Navy pilot to fly through a hurricane, and ultimately attained the rank of Navy Captain. She currently serves as a senior manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where she has led numerous large programs.

Early life and education[edit]

Judy Neuffer was born in Wooster, Ohio. Influenced in part by her father, a WWII B-17 pilot and post-war airport manager, Neuffer started accompanying her father to work during summer breaks from school at age 11. Her summer assignments were usually those of helping in the airport front office, but it turned out to be close enough to excite her young passion for things that fly. By the time Neuffer was 15 she had already started flight lessons in the legendary Piper Cub airplane. At 16 years of age, she successfully soloed in the Cub. At eighteen, Neuffer started attending Ohio State University, graduating four years later with a B.S. Degree in Computer Science. It was in her junior year of college that Judy first became intrigued with the idea of serving in the military. She enlisted at the end of her junior year and was commissioned when she graduated the following year. She was serving her first tour of duty in the Navy when flight training opened up to women.

Aviation and Military Success[edit]

When the United States Navy first offered official flight training to females in 1973, orders were cut for only 8 potential female pilots, six of whom went on to earn their wings. Neuffer was one of these first six women. The other five women to earn their wings were Barbara Allen Rainey, Jane Skiles O'Dea, Rosemary Mariner, Ana Marie Fuqua, and Joellen Drag. Back then, flight training for women was limited to non-combat aircraft only. As a result, and upon graduation from flight training in 1974, four of the female pilots received aircraft assignments in cargo aircraft. However, Bruner requested, and was assigned to the P-3 aircraft commonly used for submarine patrol and weather surveillance, including hurricane reconnaissance . This aircraft carried a crew of 12 personnel including three pilots. During her Navy flying career, Neuffer logged several thousands of hours piloting the P-3, and became the first female P-3 Aircraft Commander and the first woman to pilot an aircraft through the eye of a hurricane.

Judy Neuffer Bruner served a total of 28 years in the United States Navy. During her 10 years on active duty, her tour included numerous flying assignments and a tour at The Pentagon. During her 18 years in the Naval Reserves, Judy held three Commanding Officer positions and also served as the Director of the Navy’s Science and Technology Reserve Program. She received numerous Navy awards including four Meritorious Service Medals and the Navy Commendation Medal. Neuffer retired from the United States Navy in 1998 having attained the rank of Captain.

Judith Bruner in 2011

Aerospace career[edit]

Bruner began her career with NASA in 1981, working first as a contractor for UNISYS Corporation as a Senior Systems Analyst on the Hubble Space Telescope mission. Judy formally joined NASA in 1989 working two years as the ground system Implementation Manager on the Earth Observing System satellite missions. Judy was then selected to head the Spacecraft Control Center Branch. In this capacity, Judy was assigned the responsibility for the development and implementation of all satellite control centers for missions at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland. Concurrently, Judy also earned her M.S. Degree from The George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1995.

In 1997, Bruner was assigned to Goddard Space Flight Center’s Directors Staff serving in various capacities including Acting Director of NASA’s IV&V facility in West Virginia and Program Manager for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission. When the Space Shuttle Columbia accident occurred in February 2003, Judy served as the GSFC point of contact for the investigation and the focal point for GSFC’s support of NASA’s subsequent Return to Flight. Currently, Bruner is the Director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate at Goddard Space Flight Center. Judy has received numerous technical and management awards during her tenure at NASA. To date, Bruner has received the Exceptional Service Medal, the Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Outstanding Management Award to name just a few.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "——". Flying Magazine: 37. April 1973. 

External links[edit]