My path to pursuing my dream to become a commercial airline pilot is anything but ordinary. I did not immediately pursue aviation once I realized my dream, but instead joined the Army. Being in the Army helped to prepare me to be a successful flight student, teaching me many skills that I have used every single day of flight training. Despite this untraditional path, I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met and worked with and the transferable skills I’ve learned that benefit me in my flight training.
I grew up in a military family. My mom was active duty in the Army National Guard, so we only moved a few times compared to many military families who move frequently from base to base. I was born in Boise, Idaho. When I was 10, we moved to Noblesville, Indiana. I lived in Indiana until I graduated from college and moved to Riverview, Florida for a year. I returned to Indianapolis in March 2020 to attend LIFT Academy to begin flight training.
I first knew I wanted to be a pilot while attending Indiana State University, where I found out we had an aviation and professional flight program. I ended up graduating with a degree in Criminology, but I felt that aviation was what I really wanted to pursue. I decided to put that goal on hold, however, and I enlisted in the Army National Guard in March of 2019 and continue to serve today; I wanted to carry on the family tradition of being in the Army, and I also knew I would always wonder “what if” if I did not join.
I fortunately had my family’s support when I decided to enlist. They were not surprised by my decision. My mom was especially supportive and stood by me throughout the whole process. I felt I knew what I was getting myself into when I enlisted because I saw it first-hand growing up, but honestly most of the time my experience was even better than I expected. Times are always changing, and that has had a big impact on what military life is really like.
I am qualified as an Army Motor Transport Operator (88M) but am currently working at range control at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. As an Army Motor Transport Operator (88M), I am responsible for safely and securely transporting people and cargo. We are tasked with driving heavy trucks through all terrains and any kind of weather. I previously worked for the Florida National Guard, and since transferring to the Indiana National Guard at Camp Atterbury, my team’s mission has been to facilitate training and ensure we have sustainable ranges and training areas for all incoming units that need to train. At this point I have never deployed, but I am ready and would be ready for anything that is requested of me.
To me, being in the military means carrying on a family tradition. It means sacrifice, teamwork and loyalty. It means being a part of something much bigger than myself. Being in the military has taught me many valuable lessons: I have learned what it takes to commit to something, how to have a strong work ethic, what it means to truly have responsibilities, how to be a leader and so much more. I know I still have so much to learn over the next few years, and I am very excited to see where I end up!
My family was definitely surprised when I shared with them that I wanted to become a pilot. I changed my mind about my career path a few times while in college, but they know that being a pilot will make me happy and fulfilled. I truly feel that being in the military and my military training have helped prepare me to be successful in flight school. I think the two responsibilities work very well together. I especially feel that learning to value high quality work, being on time, dressing for success, respect and being prepared for each day, which I developed during my military training, have aligned directly with my experience in flight training at LIFT Academy.
I am working very hard toward taking my commercial rating checkride and am looking forward to earning my Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI) rating. I am looking forward to being able to teach other student pilots at LIFT how to be successful pilots. Looking ahead, I am eager to complete my training and time building at LIFT so I can move on to Republic Airways. I am so excited to be able to work doing what I love: fly bigger and faster planes and to be able to travel to places I have never been before.