Released: April 16, 2003
battle-damaged A-10 home safely
By Staff Sgt. Jason Haag
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (ACCNS) -- An A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot deployed
with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing safely landed her "Warthog" at her
forward operating base after it sustained significant damage from enemy fire
during a close air support mission over Baghdad April 7.
Capt. Kim Campbell, deployed from the 75th Fighter Squadron at Pope Air Force
Base, N.C., and her flight leader had just finished supporting ground troops
and were on their way out of the area when her aircraft was hit with enemy
"We were very aware that it was a high-threat environment -- we're over
Baghdad," she said. "At the same time, those are the risks you are going to
take to help the guys on the ground, that's our job, that's what we do. Our
guys were taking fire and you want to do everything you can to help them out.
"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,"
Captain Campbell said.
After sustaining the hit, she said the aircraft immediately became
uncontrollable and she noticed several caution warnings -- all over a very
"I lost all hydraulics instantaneously, so I completely lost control of the
jet. It rolled left and pointed toward the ground, which was an uncomfortable
feeling over Baghdad," she said. "The entire caution panel lit up and the jet
wasn't responding to any of my control inputs."
Captain Campbell tried several different procedures to get the aircraft under
control, none of which worked, she said. At that point, she decided to put the
plane into manual reversion, which meant she was flying the aircraft without
hydraulics. After that, the aircraft immediately began responding.
"The jet started climbing away from the ground, which was a good feeling
because there is no way I wanted to eject over Baghdad," she said.
Because the aircraft sustained hits to the rear of the aircraft, including the
horizontal stabilizer, tail section and engine cowling, Captain Kim said she
could not see the damage. Her flight leader, Lt. Col. Richard Turner,
positioned his aircraft where he could view the damage.
"The jet was flying pretty good and the damage had not affected the flight
control surfaces or the (landing) gear," Colonel Turner said. "If (Kim) could
keep it flying, we would get out of Baghdad and might be able to make it (back
Once they assessed the situation, the two worked closely together to determine
the best course of action. Captain Campbell said the colonel's calm demeanor
and attention to detail were instrumental in her being able get the airplane
"I could not have asked for a better flight lead," she said. "He was very
directive when he needed to be, because all I could concentrate on was flying
the jet. Then, once we were out of the Baghdad area, (he) just went through
all the checklists, all the possibilities, all the things I needed to take
Captain Campbell said she and Colonel Turner discussed all her options, which
ultimately came down to two: fly the aircraft to a safe area and eject or
attempt to land the disabled plane.
"I can either try to land a jet that is broken, or I can eject...which I
really didn't have any interest in doing, but I knew it was something that I
had to consider," she said. "But the jet worked as advertised and that is a
tribute to our maintainers and the guys who work on the jet. It's nice when
things work as advertised."
Colonel Turner said that even though he could advise her, only one person
could make the decision about whether to eject or attempt to land the
"She had a big decision to make," he said. "Before anyone else could throw
their two-cents worth into the mix, I made sure that she knew that the
decision to land or eject was hers and hers alone."
To Captain Campbell, the decision was clear.
"The jet was performing exceptionally well," she said. "I had no doubt in my
mind I was going to land that airplane."
After getting the aircraft on the ground, the final task was getting it
stopped and keeping it on the runway, she said. "When you lose all the
hydraulics, you don't have speed brakes, you don't have brakes and you don't
have steering," she said.
"One of the really cool things that when I did touch down, I heard several
comments on the radio -- and I don't know who it was -- but I heard things
like, 'Awesome job, great landing,' things like that," she said.
"I guess we all think we are invincible and it won't happen to us," she said.
"I hadn't been shot at -- at all -- in all of my other missions. This was the
first. Thank God for the Warthog, because it took some damage but it got me
home." (Courtesy of AFPN)