A-10 fighter pilot Kim Campbell picked up many leadership lessons over the course of a 24 year Air Force career. Some came in a “crucible moment” over Baghdad on April 7, 2003. While providing close air support for troops in contact, her aircraft was struck by a surface to air missile, knocking out all of the plane’s hydraulics.A-10

Ejecting over Baghdad was not a preferred option. In a matter of seconds she was able to analyze the situation and switch to “manual reversion”, a procedure that is difficult even under ideal conditions. She described flying an A-10 without hydraulics like driving a dump truck without power steering. Kim was able to nurse her damaged plane 300 miles back to base, landing without brakes. Maintainers counted more than 600 holes in her aircraft. She would be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for that mission.

The lessons learned from that experience and her years of leading airmen form the basis for her new book “Flying in the Face of Fear: A Fighter Pilot’s Lessons on Leading With Courage.” There are many great takeaways in the book including the phrase “Aviate, Communicate, Navigate.” In critical situations it is important to address the most important issue first – like keeping your A-10 in the air (Aviate). Navigate – gain situational awareness and communicate – ask for help.

Kim told her father she was going to become an astronaut after witnessing the Challenger shuttle disaster. In an early example of the grit she exhibited during her entire life, Kim wouldn’t take no from the Air Force Academy and would be selected to be the Cadet Wing Commander her senior year.

Kim’s husband Scott was also an A-10 pilot and we spend some time discussing the challenges that arise in a dual military marriage.

TAKEAWAY: “It’s not the fear that matters; it’s all about what you do in that moment. It’s about stepping up to take action in the face of fear and having the courage to respond even when you’re scared.”