Elizabeth McCormick

YOU. In the PILOT Seat

Flying a Black Hawk helicopter is … BADASS. 

Let’s put you in the PILOT seat:  Imagine you are in the front car of a roller coaster, you can see everything in front of you. No one else’s arms or back of the heads are in your view. It’s all yours to see first. Visualize the track in front of you … extending out further and further on your ride. Wait, erase that track. There isn’t one.

YOU get to decide where you go. How high, how low, how fast or how … slow. To the right or to the left, which way you should go. It’s all up to you.  

You are in the Pilot’s seat of your life.  Elizabeth McCormick

Becoming one of the first 100 or so women to fly the Black Hawk in the U.S. Army did not come without challenges. Oh? You thought it was easy - right? 

There was the physical challenge; I had to physically perform at the same level as the men in Warrant Officer Candidate School. At that time (1994) the school that had to be completed to get to Flight School, and where women had to meet the same physical standards as the men. Running in boots in gear, next to the men at THEIR pace, not mine, pushed my physical limits further than I had ever gone. One by one, the seven women who started in our class was whittled down to two. And just when I thought, this is it, I can’t do anymore. I did more. I had more than I thought possible. Most of the time, it’s our thinking that limits us- not our bodies, not our environment, not our circle of influence (well, unless we let our limiting beliefs in).  

The mental game, was the toughest. The name-calling, negativity on a daily basis can beat down the most positive person. And I didn’t grow up super positive; the product of divorced parents with heavy responsibility placed on my shoulders. It was a daily battle to be positive and combat the negativity that was all around me. In flight school, it was worse. Although no one said the words out loud, it was clear from my treatment as the only girl in my flight school class that they did not want me there. To persevere in this vision I had on the side of road of a dirty dusty road as a military wife to become a helicopter pilot, I had to create and adopt strategies to overcome this negativity.

When I was in flight school as the only girl in the class, the flight instructor tried to fail me because of my gender. It wasn’t fair, it wasn’t right, it was a fact.  He would yell at me every day: “You’re stupid. You don’t deserve to be here. You are wasting my time.” And the worst was “A monkey can fly better than you!” Every day, week after week. It would have been easier to have quit than to persevere. It was physically demanding, and mentally grueling, and emotionally it took a toll on my self-esteem … until I started developing and utilizing these confidence boosting strategies over 20 years ago (see these at www.soar2success.com). And although my life is different now that I am a disabled veteran and can no longer fly due to my injury, I still use these today to keep my confidence high and perform optimally.  

By Elizabeth McCormick, CW2 (RET) U.S. ARMY  
Post 4380 Casey Joyce All-American Post


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About Elizabeth McCormick
As a former US Army Black Hawk pilot, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 (RET) Elizabeth flew command and control, air assault, rappelling, top-secret intelligence missions, and also transported high level government VIPs including the Secretary of Defense.


She has received many awards in the Army, and supported United Nations peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, receiving the Meritorious Service Medal for her excellence in service. In 2011 Elizabeth was awarded the US Congressional Veteran Commendation for her commitment to serving her country and community as a disabled veteran and a renowned motivational speaker.

An authority on Leadership and Veterans Issues with the media, Elizabeth has been seen on ABC, CBS, FOX, CW, NBC, in the Wall Street Journal, and more. Her personal development book, The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life, is a "must read"! Elizabeth also has more than 17 books out; a series of small format business success tip books: Soar 2 Success. 

As an in-demand renowned motivational business success speaker, Elizabeth inspires audiences with her aviation experiences and shares her lessons learned in a dramatically memorable keynote presentation. As a premier leadership trainer and top performing founding member of the John Maxwell Team of speakers, she is a dynamic and energizing entertainer sought after for events around the world.  Elizabeth has 100+ booked engagements per year, and has spoken to a variety of audiences including Sherwin Williams, Boston Scientific, Rockwell Collins, Intuit, Raytheon, Krispy Kreme, Prudential, Mass Mutual, Lexis-Nexis, Old National Bank, Charles Schwab, and more. Find out more at: www.PilotSpeaker.com