Kim Campbell (pilot)

Kim Campbell

Captain Kim Campbell viewing her damaged A-10
Birth name Kim Nichole Reed
Born (1975-06-06) June 6, 1975
Honolulu, Hawaii
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1998–present
Rank Colonel
Unit 357th Fighter Squadron

Kim Nichole Reed-Campbell (born June 6, 1975 in Honolulu, Hawaii)[1] is an American officer and Senior Pilot in the U.S. Air Force who currently serves as a Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the United States Department of Defense. She was decorated for piloting her A-10 Thunderbolt II back to base in southern Iraq after taking heavy anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) damage in aerial combat over Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. After her tour of duty in Iraq ended, Campbell gave lectures throughout the United States about her experience, including one at the National Air and Space Museum. Kim Campbell was promoted to the rank of Major in the autumn of 2006.

She is married to another A-10 pilot, Colonel Scott Campbell, whom she met at the Air Force Academy.

Early Life and Education

Campbell is the daughter of the mayor of San Jose (and former USAF Captain) Chuck Reed. She joined the Civil Air Patrol as a cadet at age 13 and made her first solo flight in a civilian aircraft over San Jose at age 16.

She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy in 1997 where she was the cadet wing commander, as was her father during his time at the academy, the first time that a father and daughter both served as cadet wing commander.[2] She holds a degree in International Security Studies from the University of Reading, United Kingdom, and a Masters in Business Administration from Imperial College London, United Kingdom, which she undertook while on a Marshall Scholarship.

April 2003 incident

The damage occurred when she was flying a mission over Baghdad on April 7, 2003. "We did our job with the guys there on the ground, and as we were on our way out is when I felt the jet get hit. It was pretty obvious — it was loud... I lost all hydraulics instantaneously, and the jet rolled left and pointed toward the ground, which was an uncomfortable feeling over Baghdad. It didn't respond to any of my control inputs." She tried several procedures to get the aircraft under control, none of which worked; last, she put the plane into manual reversion, meaning she was flying the aircraft without hydraulics. The aircraft immediately responded. "The jet started climbing away from the ground, which was a good feeling because there was no way I wanted to eject over Baghdad." With some technical advice from her flight leader, Lieutenant Colonel Turner, she flew the injured plane for an hour back to the air base. "The jet was performing exceptionally well. I had no doubt in my mind I was going to land that airplane." Landing was tricky: "When you lose all the hydraulics, you don't have speed brakes, you don't have brakes, and you don't have steering."[3]

Kim Campbell's A-10 suffered extensive damage.

For this action in aerial combat she was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[4]

On the ground it was discovered that her A-10 had sustained damage to one engine and to the redundant hydraulic systems, disabling the flight controls, landing gear and brakes, and horizontal stabilizer. A detailed inspection revealed hundreds of holes in the airframe and that large sections of the stabilizer and hydraulic controls were missing.[5]

"She's one of the few pilots who ever landed the A-10 in the manual mode," said General Richard Myers, USAF, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[6]


  1. Jane Erikson. "Her plane shot up over Iraq, Air Force captain completed a dangerous flight to safety". American valor.
  2. Gottlieb, Allie (2003-02-20). "Captain America's Rebellion". Metroactive News. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  3. Jason Haag (2004-04-01). "Wounded Warthog: an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot safely landed her "Warthog" after it sustained significant damage from enemy fire". Combat Edge. Retrieved 2014-12-23 via
  4. "Kim N. Campbell. Distinguished Flying Cross". Hall of Valor. Military Times. Retrieved 2014-12-23.
  5. Capt. Kim Campbell USAF (2004-03-04). "GE Aviation Lecture. They Call Me "Killer Chick"". GE Aviation Lecture Series. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved 2014-12-23.
  6. Myers, General Richard (2003-05-01). "25th Eaker Lecture. The New American Way of War". United States Air Force Academy. Retrieved 2014-12-23.
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