On Jul. 7, 2017 Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, who has been chosen for the NASA Astronaut Candidate Class of 2017, performed her last flight in the AH-1 Cobra, her favorite “skid” aircraft, at Marine Corps Air Station (MACS) Yuma, Ariz..
But as explained by Lance Cpl. Christian Oliver Cachola, in the article Maj. Moghbeli’s Final Flight, although Moghbeli has flown over 500 missions, 150 of those being combat missions, and logged over 1,200 hours flying the Cobra, flying helicopters was not exactly part of her plan when she sought out to become an astronaut.
Actually when Moghbeli first joined the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), she wanted to fly jets. She always thought: Who would want to fly helicopters? She believed that becoming a fighter jet pilot would better her chances at becoming an astronaut. The young second lieutenant spent a few hours riding as a passenger in CH-53s during her time at The Basic School in Quantico, Va., but was unamused. However, just a single encounter with an attack helicopter changed her opinion.
Moghbeli distinctly remembers the first time she witnessed a Cobra fly overhead and instantaneously said, “I want that one.”
She began to admire the abilities of tiltrotor aircraft and eventually was selected to fly the Cobra. Years later, she had been through three deployments to Afghanistan with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“My favorite thing about flying the Cobra,” Moghbeli explained, “is being able to support the Marines on the ground. We’re not too high, we’re not too low; we have great situational awareness with a birds-eye view where we can see exactly what’s going on and pass it on to the guys on the ground.”
Later, Moghbeli would go on to fly and test the Cobra’s operational capabilities with Marine Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, based out of MCAS Yuma.
And although she has finally made her dream come true, Moghbeli will miss flying helicopters.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” she said. “I love flying helicopters; I love flying the Cobra and I know that this is potentially my last flight ever, or at least my last one for a long time, but I’m very excited about what I’m about to go do.”
Moghbeli is scheduled to report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to begin her two years of astronaut training.
Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Christian Cachola / U.S. Marine Corps
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