Arlington, Va. --
Maj. Christina “Thumper” Hopper is the first African-American female fighter pilot to fly in a major war. In her first F-16 assignment, she flew more than 100 combat hours in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Her most memorable mission was during one of the worst recorded sand storms in Iraqi history. Enroute to the target, her threat warning system was destroyed by a lightning strike. In spite of the loss, she continued the mission, delivering ordnance on target in support of friendly forces heavily engaged with the Iraqi Republican Guard. Her delivery scattered the Iraqi contingent, enabling ground forces to press forward.
“Providing that level of support from the air is what makes this job really rewarding!” she said.
The major continues to inspire others as a mentor and athlete.
A traditional Reserve T-38 instructor pilot, she trains the next generation of fighter and bomber pilots. Passionate about helping others succeed, she launched an innovative female pilot mentorship group that is shaping the environment for Air Force-wide diversity and inclusion.
A world-class triathlete, she encourages others to strive for the impossible. As a member of the Air Force Triathlon Team, in 2016 she completed the IRONMAN course in Kona, Hawaii. She believes true mental toughness enriches all aspects of life, and difficult events expose our weaknesses.
“When our weaknesses are laid bare, we actually gain the true capacity for growth. This is what inspires me to keep doing the hard things,” she said.