GREAT FALLS — Climbing into the cockpit of a Montana Air National Guard C-130 is nothing new for 18-year old Annabelle Kambic of Great Falls.
"I was probably 14 or 15. My dad brought me up here and let me sit in the pilot's spot and push buttons,” Kambic said. Her father is a flight engineer.
On Feb. 15, she'll head to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to follow in his footsteps. Once she completes basic and then technical training, she’ll be the first female flight engineer in the Montana Air National Guard.
"When anything goes wrong with the plane during the flight, it's my job to kind of figure out what's wrong and if I can fix it,” Kambic said, describing the job of a flight engineer. "My dad always says that this is the best seat in the house because you've got all these windows. You can see all these windows (and) down here. You can see everything that you might not be able to see from one side or the other."
While the flight engineer's seat may be the best seat in the house, she's got her eye on a different seat.
"I look up to my dad and I wanted to do something that he enjoyed and that I would be able to talk with him about, but it's more of a stepping stone to becoming a pilot hopefully,” said Kambic. "I think he's excited. At least he said he is. It's weird working with him, being in the same environment all the time. When we come up for Guard drill, it's like 'Oh, hi, dad. You're here, too.'"
Becoming a pilot requires more than just becoming a flight engineer. “(You have to) get a college degree, become an officer. There are a couple things that need to be done,” Kambic said.
But she's determined.
"I'm nervous, as I feel like anyone would be, but I think that if I study hard and keep my eyes on the prize then I will hopefully be able to get there one day,” Kambic said.
Her advice for others wanting to become flight engineers? She says problem-solving skills are very important, you must have quick reaction time, and you have to know your stuff.
She hopes to inspire young girls to not be afraid to try anything and know they can work hard for whatever they want.