Wednesday, April 04, 2007

cool fighter chicks

I missed this post over at the American Thinker last August. It highlights the Chick Fighter Pilot Association, with a little hero worship to boot.
A confession: I am in awe of fighter pilots. I was never physically qualified to join the Army, much less posessed of the physical and mental abilities necessary to be a fighter pilot. But that has never stopped me from fantasies of dogfighting in a WW II Mustang or an F 16. Nor has it crippled me with envy for those who serve our country at the outer limits of the junction of technology and human capabilities.

But now I am in danger of becoming a complete groupie. A new organization of female American fighter pilots has been formed, the Chick Fighter Pilot Association (CFPA). They even have a website. And the website has pages of photos.

And The Thunder Run has an article on Maj. Kim "KC" Campbell. I got to meet KC (not just her initials, also stands for "Killer Chick") a few years ago when she honor the US Air Force Academy with her presence. She was calm and collected as she told us the story about how she lost part of her wing and tail over Baghdad, barely making it back to a friendly base. Let me just say I was in awe myself. She was recently decorated for her bravery:
On April 7, 2003, then-Capt. Campbell and her flight lead responded to a call for air support in downtown Baghdad, where an elite unit of the Iraqi Republican Guard had U.S. forces pinned against the Tigris River. Campbell and her wingman faced bad weather before they dove out of the sky and devastated the enemy with rockets and the Warthog’s feared 30mm Gatling gun. After successfully hitting their targets, the pilots turned back toward base – and that’s when Campbell’s jet was rocked by a large explosion, and immediately began pulling to the left and toward the ground. With numerous caution lights flashing, the one that worried Campbell the most was the hydraulic lights. A quick check confirmed her suspicions: Her hydraulic system had been fried. She would later discover that one of her engines was badly damaged and the fuselage was riddled with hundreds of bullet holes.

Campbell quickly switched to manual inversion, allowing her to fly her Warthog under mechanical control. She then had a decision: try to fly 300 miles back to base, or parachute into hostile territory. This was dicey terrain, so she decided she had to make the flight. Despite the heavily damaged aircraft and terrible weather – including massive dust storms – “Killer Chick” persevered. With the help of a seasoned pilot on her wing, Campbell landed safely back at base – fully prepared to take to the skies again and unleash the Warthog, as well as her moniker, on any opposing forces.

For her actions and bravery, Campbell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism.

CENTCOM article here. Have you made it when there's a Wikipedia article on you? Congrats KC!

More links:
KC makes the "History of the Air Force"
KC tells her story
Article from Combat Edge
Smithsonian article, including photos of the damage to KC's jet
Speech by Gen Richard B. Meyers, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs, at USAFA, he mentions KC near the end (I was there!)

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