My Epic Journey as a Combat Helicopter Pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan
Inspiring and “riveting…vivid and harrowing” (Sean Parnell, author of Outlaw Platoon), Danger Close is the first memoir of active combat by a female helicopter pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan. New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor raves, “Men and women alike will love this incredible tale of heroism, humility, and high-octane feats of bravery.”
Amber Smith flew into enemy fire in some of the most dangerous combat zones in the world. One of only a few women to fly the Kiowa Warrior helicopter—whose mission, armed reconnaissance, required its pilots to stay low and fly fast, perilously close to the fight—Smith deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and rose to Pilot-in-Command and Air Mission Commander in the premier Kiowa unit in the Army. She learned how to perform and survive under extreme pressure, both in action against an implacable enemy and within the elite “boy’s club” of Army aviation.
In Danger Close, Smith “covers each mission with edge-of-your-seat detail and a coolness that demonstrates how she gained the respect of fellow pilots and soldiers on the ground” (Library Journal). Smith’s unrelenting fight for both mastery and respect delivers universal life-lessons that will be useful to any civilian, from “earning your spurs” as a newbie to “embracing the suck” through setbacks that challenge your self-confidence to learning to trust your gut as a veteran of your profession.
Intensely personal, cinematic, poignant, and inspiring, Danger Close is “the captivating story of one woman’s fight to serve her country in the direct line of danger” (Dana Perino, co-host of The Five on Fox News).
Like a skilled helicopter pilot who skims the ground without churning up too much dust, Smith, a former U.S. Army Kiowa Warrior pilot, superficially revisits her years in the military. As both piloting and military service ran in her family, Smith grew up believing that someday she'd don a uniform and fly planes. The 9/11 attacks turned someday into now. Smith was still in college, though, and without a degree only the Army flight program accepted her and only for helicopter training. She discusses her experience training as a pilot, occasionally peeling back a layer or two from the surface but studiously avoiding controversy. Smith does deliver deft, almost loving, descriptions of the Kiowa helicopter and the role that the chopper and its crew play in combat. Though comfortable writing about training, equipment, and missions, Smith sidesteps addressing military gender politics. This may come as a disappointment to some readers, given that all combat positions recently opened up for women and that sexual assault and harassment continue. She also shrinks from discussing the politics or the history of the wars. There's no question that Smith was an accomplished and loyal soldier who served her country well, but readers will be left wondering why she didn't address crucial aspects of service.