WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – She may not hold super powers like Capt. Carol Danvers but Lt. Col. Olivia Elliott is a marvel in her own right.
When Elliott, who is currently enrolled at the Air Force Institute of Technology as part of the Advanced Academic Degree program working on her PhD in hypersonic aerodynamics, was six her father was stationed at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, where she would watch the F-16s fly over. She knew right then that she wanted to be a pilot.
“I would see them fly over and I thought that was the coolest job to possibly have,” said Elliot. “At such a young age, I didn’t quite understand all the ins and outs of being a pilot, but as I got older I started understanding a little bit more of what it meant to be a pilot; especially a military pilot.”
Elliott’s determination to become an Air Force pilot grew even stronger after the start of the Gulf War in 1990.
“I was 12-years old and I was seeing the images and videos that were being televised of what was happening over there… that was what stoked the fire for me to want to be a military pilot,” she said. “That’s when I focused all my energy on joining the Air Force to become a pilot. I saw the A-10 and what it was capable of and it grabbed ahold of me and that’s what I wanted to do from that point forward.”
Focusing on her education in high school to secure entry into the United States Air Force Academy, she knew that path would be her best chance at getting a slot in pilot training.
Graduating second overall in her class, Elliott graduated from the USAFA in 2000 with a Bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering. She then went on to complete her Master’s degree in Microsatellite Engineering at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, in 2002.
“Once I got into pilot training, I wanted to make sure I could fly the A-10 and since pilot training is a merit based system and you get to choose your aircraft based on how well you do, I worked really hard and secured the A-10,” said Elliott.
Elliott was also chosen to attend the U.S .Air Force Test Pilot School and became a test pilot, just like Capt. Danvers.”
“I’m a little jealous of Capt. Danver’s super powers but I hope the movie will inspire young girls to become pilots,” said Elliott.
Although currently a male dominated career field, she is confident the number of female pilots in the Air Force will steadily increase.
“There have been many amazing women in the Air Force that paved the way for me and have broken down those barriers that once existed,” Elliott said. “And the Air Force is great at recruiting a diverse group of people to join our team.”
Elliott said it is never too soon to get exposed to aviation. Many local airfields or base aero clubs provide ground and flight schools. Some even offer an introductory flight for young children to simply ride along on a flight to see if you like the idea of flying.
And for the older children, high school and college students, they can enroll in JROTC or Civil Air Patrol. In addition, they can talk with a local Air Force recruiter and get guidance on how to become a pilot.
“It’s not easy, it does takes hard work and determination and you do have to make some sacrifices, but if you want to be a pilot, there is nothing more exciting than feeling the thrust of the jet engine and shooting up thousands of feet and seeing the sunrise at 30,000 feet,” Elliott said.
If asked what would she tell any young girl who wants to be a pilot?
“Go for it, it’s the best job you could possibly ever have,” Elliott said. “I am a firm believer of not letting anyone or anything stand in the way of you trying to achieve your dreams. The Air Force is outstanding at supporting you.”