Christy Wise, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II pilot, completed her first mission last week since returning to flying status after having her right leg amputated.
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE – Moody Air Force Base and the Valdosta community have a new heroine.
Capt. Christy Wise, 71st Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II pilot, completed her first mission last week since returning to flying status after a right leg amputation. Wise is the first female and sixth overall Air Force pilot to fly after an amputation.
In April 2015, Wise was injured during a boating accident. The incident led to her amputation, but just 15 months later, she returned to the air.
“It felt great,” Wise said of her return to flight. “I think I was excited for like two to five seconds and then after that I went back into work mode … It’s awesome. It’s actually been an exhausting week. Props to all my instructors and evaluators. They wanted to make sure I was ready for this so they had me in a simulator every single day this week.”
The training mission was a flight to Savannah. When Wise landed at Moody, she was greeted by a myriad group of friends and family. She said she’s spoken with the other five pilots who continued flying after an amputation, and she considers each an inspiration.
“I just want to thank my mentors,” Wise said. “… The other five amputees have been in touch with me. They’re the reason I’m here as quickly as I am. They gave me advice and told me what to do.”
Wise said even in the ambulance when she couldn’t feel her leg, she believed that she could still make it back to flying if a “worst-case scenario” unfolded. She said she never considered quitting.
“Having (Wise) as part of our rescue group and the bigger 23rd Wing is amazing,” Col. Thomas Dorl said. “She’s an inspiration to all of us here. Her determination, her tenacity and her passion to get back on active duty is something inspiring to all of us here … It’s very impressive.”
Dorl said Wise “thrived in adversity” and her determination to return uplifted her peers.
“She can inspire folks by whatever she does everyday,” he said. “People can look at her and say, ‘if she can do it, I can do it’ and that’s very contagious around the squadron and the community.”
Wise has a message for everyone: “You can do anything. It’s a lot of hard work and I still have hard days, but it’s possible.”