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  • Writer's pictureHera Aviation Group

The Tribe That Raised Me

My journey to Hera’s creation has had many chapters.

I wasn’t the archetypal pilot when I started flying in 1997. Sadly, I’m still exceptional.

As a woman, a mother, and a primary caregiver, I am not your typical pilot. Although I share the caregiving duties with my partner, I'm the last soldier when it comes to the mini-humans. The buck stops with me.

With half the workforce today representing those that identify as female and only about five percent categorizing that same cohort in aviation- I embody a disconnect.

An outlier. A risk.

However, that stereotypical view of a pilot is changing now. Our community has been willing to attend to the imperatives of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The words that we hear so often now and have become slightly immune to are hard-fought. Those words are fraught with brave voices and actions, stepping out of the herd to ask hard questions, insisting on being counted.

Some have seen deficits in their advancements for merely speaking their truths.

Nonetheless, individuals are humbly asking questions of how to create change in their respective organizations. I have had numerous conversations with trailblazers in our industry that substantiate Hera’s tenet. It's pretty amazing how many Seekers are out there.

Leaders are reaching for a new way to think about Aviation, about significance, especially about the value and roles of the primary caregiver in our industry. These professionals are emboldened to propel their organizations forward, from espoused to enacted values. They are creating a new workforce, including the well-seasoned, fully qualified pilots that happen to share responsibilities at home—finding a new way—making room. We are ready for a cultural transformation for the greater good.

I write this blog as a love letter of gratitude to my tribe; those that throughout the years shaped my journey and led me to found Hera Aviation Group; from the first solo at Hickory NC (KHKY), to the years in the United Kingdom flying charter, cargo and air medical missions, to Daniel Webster College and beyond. All of me. The connections I made with my humans opened my mind to learning how to live life to the fullest in the most challenging and unpredictable times. They taught me how to live with integrity, even when it's hard.

A person’s success is the collection of the tapestry of the people-woven pieces into their stories. I learned a lot about whom I wanted to be by watching the decency with which those special people operated in my life and my profession. Those people became my models for Hera Aviation Group.

Moreover, it is empowering to live in my truth today—a mother. Certainly, In the last few years, I've openly traded stories on the flight deck with my colleagues about my life, my children, who they are, and the ridiculousness that accompanies parenthood.

But that wasn't the case ten years ago. I once interviewed for a pilot position, a job I was so excited to be considered a flight crew member. I recall that one of the interviewers asked what my five-year goal was. I answered professionally and shared my goal of becoming a training captain with their company, integrating social responsibility with corporate utility by creating an Angel Network within the flight department to support the local community. I also shared my hope of having a family and raising my children in the aviation community.

Years later, flying on a trip for that company, the chief pilot shared with me how brave they thought that answer was. Even as I type this sentence, I can feel my heartache because brave means so many other things globally; Not purely sharing the hope to have a family.

Though, the most powerful lessons I’m thankful for came into being from an alternate perspective of what not to do. I experienced the discomfort of being othered and absorbed so much about what I did not align myself with; and what to avoid emulating by enduring the biases against women, minorities, and caregivers.

Every single chapter in my journey has had a message: every unique soul, my teacher. As I took count of the countless lessons delivered in laughter, pride, joy, frustration, and pain, I felt a wave of gratitude wash over me. It gave me goosebumps. I’m grateful for all of it. I'm thankful for all of you.

Thank you for walking with me and for refusing to accept the status quo.

Empower. Cultivate. Transform.


Jessica Webster

Founder & President

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