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Dr. issy Cummings
Dr. Missy Cummings speaks at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Tuesday. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)

Dr. Missy Cummings, who serves as director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, spoke about the future of driverless vehicles during a power talk at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Tuesday. But it was her time behind the controls of a Navy fighter jet that drew a fun question from the audience.

“I was one of the United States Navy’s first female fighter pilots, in fact one of the first female fighter pilots for the United States in general,” Cummings said to applause at the beginning of her talk.

She called herself “the best of the best” at what she did — while admitting that computers were always better.

Better than Maverick?

An attendee in the GeekWire audience asked Cummings if she had ever been in an inverted, 4G dive with a MiG (Russian military aircraft).

Cummings certainly caught the reference to the 1986 hit “Top Gun” (below), starring Tom Cruise as a cocky Navy fighter pilot.

“I will tell you that I never got to fight against MiGs, per se,” Cummings said. “Have I been inverted in a negative 4G? Absolutely. … It’s a man vs. machine when you’re flying a fighter like that. To be able to put it into very unusual attitudes. It’s very turbulent … so amazing.”

So you’re the one … yes, ma’am.

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