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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2022

Civil Air Patrol cadet becomes U.S. Air Force trailblazer, returns to roots

By By Michael Daniels, Colorado Wing of the Civil Air Patrol

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. (Ret.) Rochelle Kimbrell started her career as a Civil Air Patrol cadet with the Colorado Wing’s Parker Composite Squadron. She received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy and, upon graduation, proceeded to become the first female Black fighter pilot in the Air Force, serving as a trailblazer for generations to come.

After 22 years of service, Kimbrell retired from the Air Force and rejoined the Civil Air Patrol’s Colorado Wing as a senior member. She is now a CAP cadet flight orientation pilot encouraging young men and women of all backgrounds to embrace aviation. 

Kimbrell is an inspiration to all ages and continues to make a difference in others’ lives.  She enjoys speaking with young people who may not realize the sky’s the limit until they meet her.

"I see the lights turn on in kids' eyes when I talk to them as they realize that someone like me can do something as cool as being a fighter pilot,” she said. “They come to see that they can go out and do whatever they want to do. That’s what I focus on  and think is really important. CAP can help achieve dreams.”

Recently, Kimbrell was asked to take part in the filming of a documentary on Bessie Coleman who was an American aviator and the first Black woman to earn a pilot's license.

Kimbrell had a chance to talk about her early interest in aviation and the opportunities provided through her cadet membership in the Civil Air Patrol. The film included footage of her flying a CAP aircraft as an O-Ride (orientation) pilot with a Colorado Wing female cadet.