I joined the US Coast Guard right after high school when I was 17 years old.
In the service I worked at a search and rescue station as a boat crew member, but I had the opportunity to work many rescues where we utilized the MH-65 Dolphin on scene. I just fell in love and knew I had to be up there someday. When I was discharged I utilized the GI Bill to attend flight school at UHI in Prescott, AZ.
The challenges have been many. Unfortunately we still live in a world where our abilities as females are questioned everyday. Passengers have voiced hesitations on the basis that I am a female. People have claimed I get jobs easily because I am a “pretty girl”, not the fact that I interview well because I prepare extensively. I have been sexually harassed by passengers, and the butt of every sexist “joke” in the book from menstrual jokes to kitchen jokes. And all awhile, if I have gotten upset in the past I was accused of overreacting. And the crazy thing is some people don’t believe that this type of treatment still goes on. With that being said, some people’s attitudes, both men AND women, do need to change. I have to say this is not all coming from men. You have to be able to not let that type of negativity dim your light. I can’t say that it never bothered me when that happens, and it has taken practice over time to grow a strong backbone. However, I have been confident throughout my career in my abilities and in my knowledge because I have worked my butt off for it. When you know you do your job, and you do it safely you have nothing to prove to anyone (until the next checkride haha!). The thing is, females make up such a small percentage of the pilot pool, especially helicopter pilot pool, that it is still a shock when passengers see you or you tell people what you do. For the majority of the time I have been surrounded by positivity, and have had so many people say they were excited to have a female as their pilot. My career has been filled a great support system of just salt of the earth good people and pilots whom I consider my family. I wouldn’t trade any of the challenges I faced for anything, it is what has made me who I am today. But I do look forward to a day where it isn’t such a shock anymore to see a female with wings. Let’s get that 5% up girls!
now I work at Helinet Aviation, I fly organ transplant teams and VIP charters. What is your next big challenge career wise
I am pretty content where I am at the moment in my flying career. I am happy to be flying a twin engine helicopter, flying with an amazing team, and the knowledge that I am helping people. That’s really why I became a pilot in the first place. I am also working on something exciting in the background which I can’t really speak on yet! Stay tuned.
What would I like to say to aspiring pilots?
If you dream of becoming a pilot, get after it! It is not an easy path, you will be challenged every step of the way, but nothing worth having ever comes easy. Sorry for the cliche’! But it is true. Flying has been the most rewarding and adventurous career for me, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. You’ll be tempted at some point to break the rules, don’t to listen to that voice, and put safety above all else. NEVER be afraid to say NO. Practice it with me, “NO GO!”. You’re going to be faced with challenging decisions, fueled by both internal and external pressures. If you have to second guess yourself, it is just not worth it. Go where you’re supposed to go, do what you’re supposed to do, and you'll have a long and successful career. Not very Maverick of me I know. Study your butt off, never stop learning, and BE TRAINABLE. Finally, don’t ever underestimate how far a handshake and a humble attitude goes in this industry. Have fun and enjoy the journey! Look forward to seeing y'all out there! Welcome to the coolest club in the world.
Diane is such an Icon already in the industry ! THANK YOU for those wise words and motivation ! Side note : Her tiktok are hilarious you should go and check her out on there too ! @foreveronthefly