COLUMBIA — The Air Force’s first female fighter pilot is becoming the service’s first female to take command of an Air Force combat fighter wing.

Col. Jeannie Leavitt takes command of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Base in North Carolina on Friday.

During her 20 years in the Air Force, Leavitt says she’s familiar with being in its leading ranks of women. But she says she’s earned her position through performance, not favoritism.

Leavitt has logged more than 2,500 hours flying the F-15 Strike Eagle, including 300 hours flying in combat primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 45-year-old will be in charge of the wing’s 5,000 active duty men and women, with 12,000 civilians in the base population.