Danger Close: My Epic Journey as a Combat Helicopter Pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan is the inspiring and riveting first-ever memoir of active combat by a female helicopter pilot in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Amber Smith flew into enemy fire in some of the most dangerous combat zones in the world. One of only a few women to fly the Kiowa Warrior helicopter—whose mission, armed reconnaissance, required its pilots to stay low and fly fast, perilously close to the fight—Smith deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as a member of the elite 2-17 Cavalry Regiment, part of the legendary 101st Airborne Division, the Screaming Eagles. She rose to Pilot-in-Command and Air Mission Commander in the premier Kiowa unit in the Army, repeatedly flying into harm’s way during her 2005 and 2008 deployments.
In Danger Close, Smith takes us into the heat of battle, enabling readers to feel, hear, and smell the experience of serving as a combat pilot in high-intensity warfare. This is an edge-of-the seat story of learning to perform under pressure and persevere under extreme duress—both in action against an implacable enemy and within the elite “boy’s club” of Army aviation. Smith’s unrelenting fight for both mastery and respect delivers universal life-lessons that will be useful to any civilian, from “earning your spurs” as a newbie to “embracing the suck” through setbacks that challenge your self-confidence to learning to trust your gut as a veteran of your profession.
Intensely personal, cinematic, poignant, and inspiring, Danger Close is a war story on one hand, and also the story of a brave pilot who fought for and earned a lifetime membership in the ranks of the best of the best.
Praise for Danger Close:
“Danger Close is absolutely fantastic. This is one of the most exciting and inspirational books I have read in years!
Men and women alike will love this incredible tale of heroism, humility, and high-octane feats of bravery. Danger Close is the real deal! “
—Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Foreign Agent
“Danger Close is a riveting and intensely personal account of a woman who spent nearly a third of her life at war. Amber Smith goes beyond detailing the experience of women in the military and takes the reader into the cockpit with her to explore the vivid and harrowing world of being a combat helicopter pilot. Amber is one hell of a Soldier and an American hero on every level.”
– Sean Parnell, New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon
“The captivating story of one women’s fight to serve her country in the direct line of danger. Amber Smith shows readers the true meaning of patriotism and how to survive under extreme pressure. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and you won’t want to put it down.”
—Dana Perino, NYTs Bestselling author of And The Good News Is, Former White House Press Secretary, and co-host of Fox News’ The Five
“While the debate goes on about the role of women in combat, Amber Smith’s Danger Close reminds us that pilots are pilots and the American warrior ethos is alive and well, regardless of what restroom you use. When my squad was under fire in Iraq, the buzz of Kiowa rotors was our lifeline. The simple truth is that many children have fathers today because of the daring close support of Amber Smith and her elite colleagues. I am proud to be a part of an Army that produces pilots like Amber, who are unapologetic about the pure fury they unleash on a deserving enemy.”
—David Bellavia, author of House to House
“Danger Close is a fantastic view into the world of combat helicopter pilots as seen through the eyes of a successful and proven US Army female combat helicopter pilot. It is an exciting ride through training and combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I laughed at the antics only found in military training and operations and cried at the anguish experienced through combat loss. As a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, My team called in airstrikes from pilots across all services, including from some amazing women pilots. Amber Smith proves she is one of these pilots and that she has what it takes as an American warrior. Danger Close gives tremendous insight into the sacrifice our American men and women make every day for Freedom across the globe. Most importantly, Amber sets the example for all young women who aspire to serve our nation’s armed forces and I encourage any young woman looking to join the military to read this book.”
— LT Jason Redman, Retired Navy SEAL, Author of The Trident
“While most memoirs about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been penned by male combat veterans, Smith’s book represents a missing point of view—the voice of a female Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot. Deploying in 2005 and 2008 with Second Squadron of the 17th Cavalry Regiment, part of the legendary 101st Airborne Division, Smith flew missions over dangerous and remote territories in Iraq and Afghanistan to scout IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and enemy presence, maintaining calm under fire in the worst of situations. Smith begins with her decision to join the U.S. Army after growing up with her pilot father and a childhood of flying experience. The Book journeys through basics training, flight school, and then in-the-air training. Through that training, Smith shares the difficulty of breaking through the “boys club” of military aviation. The author covers each mission with edge-of-your-seat detail and a coolness that demonstrates how she gained the respect of not only her fellow pilots but also soldiers on the ground. VERDICT: A rare outlook in a field of memoirs, Smith’s account is a must-read and an inspiration for women who aspire to become aviators.
—Rebecca Hill, Zionsville, IN, Library Journal Review