Captain George Nolly
RFT 402: F-117A Pilot Chandra Beckman
Having the desire to fly fighter jets since seeing the movie “Top Gun,” Chandra Beckman became part of the elite group of women who have flown United States Air Force fighter jets. Chandra started her AF career in ROTC in 1993, the same year the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women flying combat missions, which opened the door for women to fly fighter jets. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Arizona State University in 1998. After a delay due to an unexpected pregnancy, she attended USAF Pilot Training where she earned an assignment to fly the F-15C Eagle, and was the first woman to fly that aircraft as a mother. During her time flying the F-15C, Chandra supported the defense of the homeland through Operation NOBLE EAGLE and flew combat missions during the opening weeks of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Following three years flying the F-15C, she was one of only 3 women assigned to fly the first stealth fighter aircraft, the F-117A Nighthawk. During her time flying that aircraft, she deployed in support of security operations to the Korean peninsula, coordinated with media groups to showcase the final F-117 RED FLAG, and mentored school children and Airmen of all ranks. Taking a break from flying, Chandra was stationed in the Republic of Korea where she was assigned to the Combined Air Operations Center. While there she developed and implemented the first Operations Center training program for new personnel and worked jobs in both offensive and defensive combat training roles. Chandra then went on to be an Instructor Pilot at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. However, health challenges that had begun while she was stationed in the Republic of Korea finally grounded her from flying. From 2009-2017, she earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science and held multiple jobs which included: Director of Staff for the 82 Training Wing, an organization with a permanent staff of over 3,000 people worldwide serving a student population of almost 80,000 annually; and Director of Operations for RED FLAG, the organization responsible for establishing the framework to train US and coalition nation members in the world’s most realistic air combat scenarios. Retired from active duty, Chandra enjoys having the freedom to travel the world with her husband and be available for her children whenever and wherever they need her to be. She is a member of the Veteran Advisory Team for the National Foundation for Integrative Medicine and looks forward to helping others in that capacity.
Duration: 23 min