From the Army to the Skies: Olivia is Changing the Face of Aviation

As a St. Pete native, Olivia’s journey from being an Army intelligence systems maintainer and advisor to a flight instructor at St. Pete Air is nothing short of extraordinary. Serving in the Army from 2016 to 2021, she found herself in diverse locales – from Georgia, Texas, and Arizona to the vibrant cultures of Europe and South America. Her time at the embassy in Bogota, teaching intelligence officers how to enhance counter-narcotics efforts, wasn’t just a job; it was an incredible journey of cultural immersion and learning.

In the summer of 2022, Olivia decided it was time for a new direction. With a desire to add the same level of value and take on substantial responsibility, as she did in the Army, she took a bold leap into aviation. Now, as a flight instructor at St. Pete Air, Olivia is not just teaching people to fly; she’s changing perceptions.

Olivia Silver

Breaking Barriers in the Sky

Being a female pilot in a traditionally male-dominated field, Olivia recognizes the importance of her role. Having female flight instructors herself, she understood the impact of seeing someone like her in the cockpit – it made aviation feel more accessible, more “for her.” Olivia notes that many, regardless of gender, request female pilot instructors, underlining the shifting dynamics in aviation.

Challenges and Triumphs

Yet, the journey hasn’t been without its challenges. Olivia frequently encounters stereotypes and underestimations about women pilots. But she stands firm in her belief  that women aren’t just in the cockpit because they’re women; they’re there because they’re outstanding pilots. Only about 6% of commercial pilots are women, and Olivia sees this not just as a challenge but an opportunity to pave the way for future female aviators.

Memorable Moments Above the Clouds

Among Olivia’s most cherished experiences was flying discovery flights with kids from Academy Prep, many of whom had never been on a plane. Watching their excitement and hearing their laughter as they communicated between aircrafts was not just fun, but profoundly rewarding.

The Power of Community and Support

Olivia credits her colleagues at St. Pete Air for their unwavering support. Their mutual motivation and encouragement have been a cornerstone of her journey in aviation. Walking through a typical day filled with teaching, practicing landings, and radio communication, Olivia is not just imparting skills; she’s instilling confidence in her students, watching them progress towards their dreams of flying.

Olivia’s Message to Aspiring Pilots

Her advice to aspiring pilots, especially young girls and women, is straightforward: take that first step. The journey might seem daunting, but the rewards are limitless. “Don’t let the stigmas deter you,” she says, “so many people out there are ready to support you.”

Olivia’s aspirations within aviation are grounded yet open-ended – she’s excited to see where this path leads her. More importantly, she wants to normalize women in commercial aviation. By being a role model and proving women’s capabilities in the skies, Olivia aims to be a catalyst for change, hoping one day the skewed perceptions will be a thing of the past.

Olivia isn’t just teaching people to fly; she’s inspiring them to soar, breaking stereotypes one flight at a time. Her story isn’t just about reaching new heights; it’s about taking everyone along with her.

Olivia Silver