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First female combat pilot Martha McSally appointed to McCain’s Senate seat

U.S. Congresswoman Martha McSally speaking with supporters at the announcement of her U.S. Senate campaign at the Swift Aviation Hangar in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
December 18, 2018

The first female combat pilot, Martha McSally, has been appointed to a Senate seat in Arizona.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced on Tuesday that he would be appointing McSally to the seat following Sen. Jon Kyl’s resignation effective Dec. 31.

McSally lost her bid for the state’s other Senate seat last month to Democrat rival Kyrsten Sinema.

However, shortly after, Kyl announced his retirement from the other seat, which he held only since September. Kyl was appointed by Ducey to fill the seat following the death of Sen. John McCain.

McSally has represented Arizona’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives since January 2015.

She retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel in 2010 after serving for 26 years. She was the first female combat fighter pilot after the military lifted the ban in 1991, as well as the first female to lead a fighter squadron. She was also among the highest-ranked pilots in Air Force history, according to Military Times.

McSally flew the A-10 Thunderbolt II in combat deployments to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, with additional support deployments to Europe and Saudi Arabia.

Ducey said in the announcement:

All her life, Martha has put service first — leading in the toughest of fights and at the toughest of times. She served 26 years in the military; deployed six times to the Middle East and Afghanistan; was the first woman to fly in combat and command a fighter squadron in combat; and she’s represented Southern Arizona in Congress for the past four years. With her experience and long record of service, Martha is uniquely qualified to step up and fight for Arizona’s interests in the U.S. Senate. I thank her for taking on this significant responsibility and look forward to working with her and Senator-Elect Sinema to get positive things done.

“Because she currently represents Arizona in the U.S. Congress, Martha McSally certainly has the knowledge and experience to represent our State in the Senate,” Kyl said. “Moreover, she is highly energetic, smart and committed to finding practical solutions to problems facing our State and Nation. She is an excellent choice.”

“Over the last year, I’ve traveled across this great state, meeting with countless Arizonans, and listening to them,” McSally said. “I’ve heard about the challenges they face and the hopes they have for the future – and I’ve learned a lot. I am humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to serve and be a voice for all Arizonans. I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Kyrsten Sinema and getting to work from day one.”

McSally delivered her final speech on the House floor last week, and expressed her gratitude in tweet, saying, “I am so grateful to have served Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. It has been a tremendous honor to deploy here for the past four years as an advocate and champion of Tucson, Sierra Vista, Douglas, and all the amazing communities in Southeastern AZ.”

It’s not yet clear if McSally will be sworn in on Jan. 3, 2019, with the rest of the incoming senators, or if her oath will take place sooner.