This story, originally published Saturday, July 23, 2016, has been updated.
She is the first female Air Force leg amputee to return to flight, the service said. Capt. Kristin Nelson, 23rd Bomb Squadron pilot, returned to flight April 30, 2015, after losing her left hand in an accident the year before.
On April 11, 2015, she and her boyfriend were paddleboarding in a cove near Shalimar, Florida. "When I surfaced I immediately thought, 'Dang it, I should have had a brighter flashlight'," Wise said. But she later learned it was a hit-and-run accident as the boat did not stop or slow down.
"If Ryan did it, I can do it," said Wise, who lost her leg above the knee.
She spent eight months in rehabilitation in San Antonio, Texas. Before her first flight was approved, Wise achieved many milestones: She recently passed her physical training test, running — not walking — the 1.5-mile run test in 13.54 minutes.
"My commander here said, 'I can't wait until you pass the PT test because everybody else in the squadron who fails it has no excuse'," she said.
Wise, of the 71st Rescue Squadron, participated in the Wounded Warrior Games in Quantico, Virginia, nine weeks after the accident. She won 11 medals in hand-cycling, swimming, wheelchair racing, swimming and track and field. In May, she competed in the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, in road cycling, running, swimming, cycling, shot put and discuss, among others.
Wise also created One Leg Up on Life, a non-profit organization that distributes prosthetic limbs and cares for children who have had limbs amputated in third world countries. She and a volunteer team visited Haiti in April.
"I was working toward getting back to this old cycle of life," she said.
On Friday, Wise practiced instrument and engine procedures and taxiing. In her second flight, she will conduct mission-oriented procedures for air refueling, airdrop and working with PJs.
Wise completed her eight-month rehabilitation in San Antonio, Texas.
Photo Credit: Courtesy photo
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"I've really had to work to build strength in my prosthetic leg because I still have to be required to do the same amount of force on the rudder pedals," Wise said.
"And, anyone who's flown a C-130 will agree that it's a really tricky parking brake ... you have to put a lot of force on the pedal on the toe-brake, and then pull it.
"That was even hard with two legs," she said.
Oriana Pawlyk covers Air Force deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime, and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.