The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum recently received an unusual item — a piece of a fighter plane that was nearly shot down over Baghdad 20 years ago.
Retired Air Force Colonel Kim Campbell managed a nearly impossible landing of the aircraft, saving her own life in the process.
The A-10 is built to support troops on the ground, and Campbell, the only woman pilot in her squadron, had just attacked an enemy position when her plane was shot.
“I felt and heard a large explosion at the back of the airplane and I knew immediately I was hit,” she said.
An Iraqi missile had severed the plane’s hydraulic lines.
“It was just plunging to the ground, completely out of control,” Campbell recalled.
She was able to regain control by switching to manual mode. She managed to safely land the plane despite never practicing the specific type of approach she was forced into because of how dangerous it was.
“I didn’t know if I was going to crash, but I got the airplane on the ground,” she said.
Campbell said the best part of the mission was “hearing all the guys on the radio. Just ‘welcome home,’ and I knew that I had made it. I had survived.”
The plane never flew again, but Campbell, whose callsign was Killer Chick, was back over Iraq the next day.
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