Allen and seven other women reported for flight training on March 2, 1973 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. She was the first of her class to win her Gold Wings and was designated the first female Naval Aviator in history in ceremonies at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, on February 22, 1974. She was assigned to fly C-1s in Alameda, California with a transport squadron and became the first jet qualified woman in the U. S. Navy flying the T-39.
Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Allen Rainey, the mother of two daughters, the Navy's first female aviator was tragically the victim of a training crash in 1982. Her student was also killed.