B-2 pilot says don't give up on dreams

Tuesday, March 9, 2004
Maj. Kristen Goodwin tells a crowd Monday at the Marshall Habilitation Center employees not to let others stop them from achieving their dreams and to look as obstacles as speed bumps, not road blocks.

Maj. Kristen Goodwin, a B-2 stealth bomber pilot at Whiteman Air Force Base, told nearly 30 people gathered at the Marshall Habilitation Center Monday about her career and the attitude that let her achieve her dreams.

Betty Munoz, a retired dietitian director who retired from the hab center, said Goodwin was one of the strongest motivational speakers she has ever heard. "Oh, I thought she was very interesting," said Munoz, who described Goodwin as "young and vivacious."

Linda Johnson, a housekeeper at MHC, was so impressed with the woman who spoke in celebration of Women's History Month that she asked her to speak to her daughter's Girl Scout group. "I was very interested, just hearing somebody else's accomplishments, somebody that has reached out there that far, that's just kind of amazing," Johnson said.

Goodwin said at the age of 10 she had three dreams: to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., to become a pilot and to become an astronaut. So far she's achieved two of those goals.

But the path hasn't been easy. Along the way, Goodwin encountered several obstacles, which she grew to see as speed bumps rather than dead ends.

And people often told her she couldn't achieve her dreams. "I got that quite a bit, but what they didn't know is that motivated me more," she said. "Don't let people steal your dreams at all."

Goodwin was at the Air Force Academy in 1992 when the government cut back on military spending, creating 225 pilot slots for the 800 people enrolled. But Goodwin was among the 225 selected. She said those selected were allowed few errors before they were kicked out of the program. "If you had a bad day, if you had a bad flight, three of them, you're out," Goodwin said.

But during flight school, she learned the value of selflessness. Goodwin and her classmates shared their errors and triumphs with each other after each flight even though they were also competing with each other for top rank, which comes with the privilege of choosing one's airplane.

"When you give, it always comes back to you one way or another," she said, making several in the audience nod in agreement. Goodwin said other groups that didn't share weren't as cohesive, didn't do as well and didn't have as much fun as her group.

While flying, Goodwin had her eye on the C-130, which is a plane used for special operations. "At the time I started training, January 1994, women weren't allowed to fly that plane," she said, adding that when she finished school in 1995, women still couldn't fly the C-130. "That could have been another dead end for me."

Instead, she continued to train on the EC-130 in Tucson, Ariz., and indirectly worked with special operations in several countries and with units such as the Navy Seals.

"I always believed you could do whatever you put your mind to, whatever you put your heart in, your passion," Goodwin said.

Upon the recommendation of her commander, she applied for a master's program at George Washington University in which Air Force personnel get to spend time on Capital Hill. Although at the time she was not enthusiastic about the program, Goodwin now said it was the most incredible experience of her life.

After receiving her degree, she reevaluated her goals and decided to try for a plane that would not be deployed as often. She was among 15 pilots hand-selected during a week-long interview to fly the B-2 bomber, based at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster. She is now one of two women flying the plane, and two more are in training.

"I was the first woman on base to fly," Goodwin said. "I had no desire to be the first. I just wanted to do my job."

Contact Jenny Bryers at

marshallag@socket.net

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