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Emily “Hawking” Shilling is a Commander (CDR) in the United States Navy (USN).  Joining in 2005, she was winged a Naval Aviator in 2007 and went on to fly the Aircraft Carrier based EA-6B Prowler on sixty combat missions.  Hawking has flown 21 different aircraft, accruing over 1700 flight hours, and served as a USN Test Pilot for the EA-18G and F-18E/F fighter jets out of VX-23. Now an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer, she is stationed on Patuxent River Md, where she procures and develops our nation’s most advanced next generation of warfighting capabilities. CDR Shilling holds a BS in Aerospace Engineering, MS in Systems Engineering, and has received national awards and recognition for both her advocacy and flying endeavors. She is currently the senior, actively serving, trans-identifying line officer in the USN.   


Emily “Hawking” Shilling is a Commander (CDR) in the United States Navy (USN), currently serving as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer, with NAVAIR in the Washington DC area. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado in 2005. Subsequently joining the Navy, she was winged in 2007 as a Naval Aviator.  She went on to fly the EA-6B Prowler, EA-18G and F-18E/F. Operating off the USS Abraham Lincoln she conducted sixty (60) combat missions in support of operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. For her actions she was awarded three Air Medals and the Order of Daedalians Distinguished Airmanship Award for superior airmanship during an emergency. Subsequently selected as a Test Pilot Candidate, she was ordered to the United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) in Patuxent River Maryland.

CDR Shilling graduated with honors from USNTPS (Class 147) and received her Master of Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2015. She then served as an Electronic Attack Project Officer with Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) where she conducted high risk test flights in support of the USN’s most advanced air combat systems to include the cutting-edge electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems being installed in the latest generation of US Aircraft Carriers. Following the success of this tour she was selected as an Aerospace Engineering Duty Officer (AEDO) where she is now a Military Deputy Program Manager charged with developing and acquiring our nation’s next line of offensive and defensive air systems.

Her major efforts as a Systems Engineer have included engineering efforts on Kepler Interplanetary Space Telescope, Analysis of Alternatives User Lead for the Next Generation Air Dominance Naval Fighter, Deputy Program Manager for Next Generation Naval Mission Planning Systems (Continuum), Deputy Program Manager for Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System, and program lead for various aspects of the forefront of Naval Aviation. CDR Shilling is the senior trans-identifying Naval Aviator and Line Officer in the United States Navy. Transitioning in 2019 during a ban on trans-inclusive service, she has led the charge in normalizing that trans identifying airman, sailors, marines, and guardians cannot only serve, but thrive in their service. She was critical in challenging military assumptions and became the first trans identifying individual to regain her Naval Flight Clearance to fly high performance tactical jets post transition in Feb 2023. She continues to work to foster an inclusive environment for all warriors, advocate for trans excellence, and mentor all those who deserve to see themselves in their heroes.

Work Experience

  • Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) – (2023-Present)
  • Naval Mission Planning and Strike Systems (PMA-281) – (2020-2023)
    • Deputy Program Manager, LVL I
    • Award:
      • Meritorious Service Medal
      • Out & Equal LGBTQ+ Corporate Advocate of the Year (2022)
  • Mission Engineering and Design (4.0M NAVAIR) – (2017-2020)
    • Project Manager, LVL III
    • Award: Navy Commendation Medal
  • Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) – (2015-2017)
    • Electronic Attack Project Officer
    • Award:
      • Navy Commendation Medal
      • Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal
  • United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) – (2014-2015)
    • Fixed Wing Student
    • Award:
      • Best Development Test Thesis
  • Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) – (2013-2014)
    • Systems Engineering Student, Master’s Degree
  • Electronic Attack Squadron One Three One (VAQ-131) – (2009-2012)
    • EA-6B Pilot
    • Award:
      • 3 x Air Medal
      • 2 x Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal
      • Deadalian Award for Superior Airmanship During an Emergency
  • Electronic Attack Squadron One Two Nine (VAQ-129) – (2008-2009)
    • Student
  • United States Navy – (2005-2007)
    • Student Naval Aviator
  • Ball Aerospace – (2003-2005)
    • Associate Engineer
  • Colorado Space Grant Consortium – (2001-2003)
    • Lead Student Engineer
    • Award:
      • Student of the Semester
      • Best Research Project


  • Bachelor’s Degree – (2005)
    • University of Colorado, Boulder
    • Aerospace Engineering Sciences
  • Master’s Degree – (2014)
    • Naval Postgraduate School
    • Systems Engineering
  • Certified Naval Test Pilot – (2015)
    • United States Naval Test Pilot School
  • Professional Certification, Model Based Systems Engineering (2017)
    • MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  • TOTAL (Hours): 1714.0 (PIC: 1567.7)
  • COMBAT (Hours): 350.9 (60 Missions)
  • ARRESTED LANDINGS: 242 (137 Day / 105 Night)
Platform (Hours):
  • EA-6B (1072.4)
  • FA/EA-18E/F/G (158.2)
  • T-45C (177.8)
  • T-38C (46.8)
  • 19 Others (261.3)
  • EA-6B NATOPS Instructor / Crew Resource Management Facilitator (NOV 2011, NOV 2015)
  • PWTP Level III EA-6B Mission Commander / Section Lead Pilot (SEP 2011)
  • Functional Check Flight Crewmember (JUN 2011)
  • Surface to Air Counter Tactics Instructor (OCT 2011)
  • Squadron Landing Signal Officer (2011)

In The News

  1. AiAA Women at SciTech Panel: Leadership, Innovation, and Intersectionality (Video)
  2. Navy commander receives top award for LGBTQ+ advocacy – The Southern Maryland ChronicleNavy commander receives top award for LGBTQ+ advocacy > United States Navy > News-Stories
  3. Navy commander receives top award for LGBTQ+ advocacy | NAVAIR
  4. 2022 Workplace Summit LGBTQ+ Corporate Advocate of the Year Outie Award | Out & Equal (outandequal.org)
  5. Emily Shilling (spartapride.org)
  6. Emily “Hawking” Shilling joins SPARTA Board as Membership Director (spartapride.org)
  7. With ban lifted, transgender service members free to figure out what comes next (nbcnews.com)
  8. Revealed: the trans military members living in fear under Trump’s ban | Transgender | The Guardian
  9. Lancer awarded Order of the Daedalians’ (kitsapsun.com)

Personal Headshot for release to panels and discussion on which Emily serves in a personal capacity