The Grit Factor is hosted by Shannon Huffman Polson, reimagining grit for the whole person in a life that matters. With guests from Admirals to Olympic athletes, fighter pilots to tech CEOs, listen in to conversations about getting through the toughest challenges, and find ideas and inspiration from the front lines.


Our Latest Episode

Episode 11 Alone, Unarmed and Unafraid: Merryl Tengesdal, the only African American woman U2 pilot

Merryl Tengesdal is an American retired career military officer and the first and only Black woman to fly the United States Air Force's U-2 spy plane used for specialized high-altitude reconnaissance missionsShe is one of five women and three Black people to be in the U-2 program. She shares the plane's nickname, The Dragon Lady.
Tengesdal is a military veteran, aviator, and commander who served in both the US Navy and the US Air Force, as well as on combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. She served as Director of Inspections for The Air Force Inspector General from October 2015 through August 2017, retiring at the rank of United States Air Force Colonel with more than 3400 flight hours and 330 combat hours.
Her memoir is titled Shatter the Sky.
I met Merryl for the first time at an event in which we both participated at the Seattle Museum of Flight and liked her immediately. She speaks with candor and humor about her experiences and lessons learned and is passionate about connecting to support the next generation of leaders in and out of the skies. 
Give yourself the gift of listening in to our conversation— and forward it along to whoever might enjoy or benefit!

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