First Lt. Dina Elosiebo took the motivational phrase, “reach for the stars,” to all new heights this month after making military history.
After completing Initial Entry Rotary Wing Flight School at Fort Rucker, Ala. and earning her Army aviator wings, Elosiebo became the first African-American female pilot to graduate from The District of Columbia National Guard.
“This is an extraordinary, historical event for us,” said Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard.
“We’re extremely proud of Lt. Elosiebo. She’s a fine officer, and now, an Army aviator.”
Even as a civilian, Elosiebo had her sights set on the sky. She had already earned her FAA commercial pilots license and become a certified flight instructor prior to joining the army.
The oldest child, Elosiebo developed leadership skills and a strong sense of responsibility at an early age, according to the United States Army website. However, a large part of this history-making aviator’s success also stems from her fellow Black flight pioneers, the Tuskegee Airmen.
Nicknamed the Red Tails, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. The group of African-American pilots famously fought in World War II, while subjected to racial discrimination both within and outside the army.
Throughout her impressive career, Elosiebo reportedly received one of her many scholarships from one of the Tuskegee Airmen’s association chapters. They also supported her when she began working towards a private pilot’s license at 19-years-old.
As for mentorship, Elosiebo received direct training and insight from living legends like Herbet Jones, an original Tuskegee Airmen who later formed the first African-American-owned airline in the country. In addition to the Tuskegee Airmen, Elosiebo looks to WWII women pilots, the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots, or WASPS, for inspiration.
“When I think about the trailblazers who went before me and the adversity they continuously faced, be it gender, ethnicity, or simply doing what had not been done, it makes me realize I wouldn’t have a story if it wasn’t for them,” Elosiebo said.
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