I am all in favor of converting all gender-specific job titles to gender-neutral ones. It is the just and fair thing to do in this more enlightened age.
However, upon coming upon the word airman I realized that I have no idea what the generally accepted gender-neutral equivalent for it is.
Postmen have become letter carriers. Firemen have become fire fighters. Stewardesses have become flight attendants.
Humans have become … well, no they haven’t, but maybe because human is a species. Species that propagate through sexual reproduction, such as humans, have to include both males and females. It’s not optional. So I guess human is gender-neutral by default even though it contains “man” within it.
Jobs, on the other hand, can, in practice if not in law, be restricted to one sex, unfair though that may be. So, to end psychological gender pigeonholing based on job titles, it makes sense to come up with gender-neutral job titles. So, my question remains, what is the gender-neutral equivalent for airman? I honestly don’t know.
With that little political correctness diatribe out of the way, an airman or airwoman is a pilot or a member of an aircraft crew. Airmen and airwomen are not necessarily in the military. Based solely on the dictionary definition of airman, they could also be civilian pilots or crew, but the word is most commonly used for military people.