Here’s text from the US Air Force’s Flickr page:
Staff Sgt. Desiree Palacios tests and make final settings on her camera before taxing out to on sortie in a F-16D Fighting Falcon with the 182 Fighter Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, TX. Sgt. Palacios is an aerial photojournalist whose duty is to document the visual story of this fighter mission. Because of the intense number of activities required of all aircrew during flight, only aerial photographers are allowed to take hand-held photographs. The aerial photographer’s duty is the safe documentation of aerial missions for a variety of DoD uses. The popular rearward photograph of fighters in the cockpit are usually of aerial photographers who use themselves to help show the human element in fighter jet environment.
Emphasis added. Because, yeah, sure it’s to show the human element of a fighter jet, and not an excuse to take the BEST FACEBOOK PROFILE PHOTO EVER. [Flickr]