Kathleen Hildreth is the first U.S. veteran to debut on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women. Kathleen has been around airplanes since she was a child and flew helicopters in the military, but today she helps other pilots fly. In 2001, Hildreth cofounded aviation maintenance company M1 Support Services, which pulled in $680 million revenue in 2018. Forbes estimates Hildreth’s fortune at $370 million, thanks to her majority stake in M1 Support, enough for the U.S. veteran to make her debut at No. 57 on Forbes 2019 list of America’s most successful self-made women.
“Anything in the government’s [aircraft] inventory, we do work on,” Hildreth told Forbes in a brief phone conversation. “You name it.”. The U.S Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, and NASA are all clients of M1 Support, which relies entirely on the federal government for business. Most of its revenues come from maintaining military aircraft, including fighter jets such as F15s, F16s, and A10 Thunderbolts.
Her roles as an owner and an executive at M1 Support make Hildreth a standout in the industry. Although four of the top five defense contractors are led by women (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Boeing Defense), fewer than one in ten executives in the aerospace and defense industry are women and less than one in four field employees, according to a 2018 study by Aviation Week. Read more.