Lt Col Kelly Latimer was born at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, in 1964. From the time she was a toddler she dreamed of becoming an astronaut. She entered the United States Air Force Academy and graduated in 1987 with Honors in Astronautical Engineering. She was then accepted into a Master’s Degree program at George Washington University where she graduated with a degree in Astronautics.
In 1989 Latimer attended pilot training at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, where after graduation she stayed to become a T-38 Instructor Pilot. She then flew C-141’s at McCord Air Force Base, Washington and was accepted into US Air Force Test Pilot School. Upon graduation she began test flying on both the C-17 and C-141 at the 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California. When the attacks of September 11, 2001 happened, Latimer knew that she wanted to get into the fight. She left the test world and went to fly C-17’s back at McCord Air Force Base. After two years of operational and deployed flying Latimer was asked to become the commander of the 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards. After finishing squadron command, Latimer desired to explore the civilian side of flight-testing. She concluded her Air Force career with a final deployment to Iraq where she advised Iraqi pilots flying combat missions. Upon retirement, Latimer became the first female test pilot for NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center flying on the SOFIA project (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy). She then moved on to Boeing as a test pilot for the KC-767, P-8, B-787, B-737, KC-46, and Chief Test Pilot for the C-17.
Latimer is now working as test pilot for Virgin Galactic where she is flying the WhiteKnight 2. The WhiteKnight 2 aircraft is a dual fuselage, high wing, composite aircraft that carries the Spaceship 2. Spaceship 2 is a reusable, winged spacecraft, designed to carry passengers in space. She is the lead 747 test pilot for the LauncherOne program, where she flys the 747 named CosmicGirl, who will launch a rocket into space to enable the market for civilian small satellites. She has flown over 40 different aircraft and has an impressive 6500+ hours of flight time. Latimer is a pioneer test pilot and continues to pave the way for Air Force aviators, innovation, and women in the field of Space Technology.