Tim Branson - 700 Club Producer
CBN.com Major Christina Hopper has no ordinary job. Sure, she has a desk and a uniform, but she also has a company vehicle - an F16 fighter jet.
Women like Christina are rare. In fact, she made history as the first African American female to fly a fighter jet during combat in a major war.
Her groundbreaking feat landed her in magazines like Ebony and Good Housekeeping, and she’s appeared on several talk shows including Oprah. However, Christina says her success as a black woman isn’t what defines her.
“My identity has been and always will be in Christ,” Christina said. “Being a child of God defines everything that drives my goals, everything that drives how I live and act on a day-to-day basis.”
Christina’s fellow pilots recognized that faith. So when Christina earned her wings and it came time to give her a nickname or “handle”, they knew just what to call her.
“They named me Thumper for Bible thumper,” Christina said. “I think that it defines me probably better than any name that they could have given me.”
Although both of her parents were in the Air Force, Christina never wanted a career in the military.
“Initially I was going to school to get a degree in psychology, and I was also doing pre-med at the time so I thought, I’m going to be a psychologist,” Christina said. “I kind of had this nice idea of how I thought things should go in my life.”
But just before college, she had second thoughts about the service, and joined Air Force ROTC.
“I thought, well I’ll just try this out and see how this works, and if I like it, then maybe I’ll stick with it,” Christina said. “Once I got into it and started getting to know the people, and getting a feel for the discipline of the military and the integrity, and just everything that it stood for, I became more and more drawn to having a career there.”
In her junior year, her commanding officer made a suggestion that changed her plans - again.
“He told me that he thought that I should be a pilot. …And I told him, you know sir, I don’t know if that’s for me,” Christina said.
Christina prayed about it. Later she had a dream about planes and pilots that she says gave her the answer.
“I woke up the next morning and knew that God wanted me to be a pilot,” Christina said.
Christina began pilot training, but worried that her career would keep her from her other goals.
“The main thing that I thought I would achieve in college was getting married and having children,” Christina said. “Neither one of those things happened to me by the time I was graduating college. So then as I was pursuing this career as a pilot in the military and on as a fighter pilot, I thought to myself, no one wants to marry a female fighter pilot.”
Yet when she least expected it, Christina met Aaron Hopper in flight school. Eight months later, they married.
As a fellow pilot, Aaron knew Christina would face dangers.
“Were you ever scared for her?” Tim Branson asked.
“I don’t think I ever worried about her,” Aaron answered. “I knew she was in good hands and that God would take care of her while she was in combat.”
As it turned out, Christina and Aaron had to lean on that faith. She went on what should have been a routine mission - and almost never came back. Christina was flying at 49,000 feet when her jet was struck by lightning.
“It knocked out my threat warning system, which tells you whether or not you are being targeted by certain air missiles or anti aircraft artillery,” Christina said. “I had to make a decision about whether or not to continue the mission. I told my flight lead what had happened and together we made a decision that we were going to press towards the target. We were able to make it home without incident. That was a huge blessing.”
When Christina returned from her mission, she received an Air Medal for Bravery. And she was recently promoted to Major. For Christina though, the biggest thrill came when she gave birth to her two children, Aaliyah and Asher.
“He said, not only am I going to give you the thing that you’re going to do, but I’m going to give you the desire of your heart, which was to be married, and have children,” Christina said.
“He’s, I feel like, blessed me beyond what I ever could have imagined. My life story tells me God is faithful,” Christina said.