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AETC announces 2008 Women's History Month Military Trailblazers award winner

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Air Education and Training Command officials recently announced the AETC winner for the 2008 Women's History Month Military Trailblazers Award.

The command selected Capt. Christina C. Hopper, 56th Operations Group,Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. Captain Hopper's military trailblazing achievements and "firsts" began at the University of Texas at Austin where she actively served in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. 

While at the University of Texas, she became the first African-American female cadet wing commander of her detachment. Her achievements during pilot training at Vance Air Force Base earned her follow-on training in the F-16 which made her the first African-American female to be selected for fighter training out of Vance Air Force Base. 

Captain Hopper received her first operational assignment flying F-16s at Cannon AFB, N.M. While at Cannon AFB, her squadron deployed to Southwest Asia as part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing supporting Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and IRAQI FREEDOM. 

Piloting an F-16 fighter jet in the first few days of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, during one of the worst recorded sandstorms in Iraqi history, Captain Hopper's aircraft was struck by lightning early in the mission. 

The lightning destroyed the aircraft's threat warning system which would alert her if her jet was targeted by surface-to-air missiles. She could have turned back from the mission, but she courageously decided to complete the mission of destroying a primary Republican Guard supply line. 

The mission earned Captain Hopper an Air Medal, one of the highest military aviation honors. Even more significant, her more than five months in Iraq earned her a place in history as the first African-American female fighter pilot to fight in a major war. 

Captain Hopper is currently one of two African-American female fighter pilots in the Air Force and has logged more than 900 hours as an F-16 pilot and over 50 combat and combat support missions during the Iraq War. 

Another first ... while currently stationed at Luke Air Force Base, she is the first African-American female F-16 Basic Course Instructor Pilot.
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