Eyes on the Skies
Brunswick County local Michelle Rush hopes to join the very small circle of Black female airline pilots — but she needs help to get there.
“Flying is very humbling. It makes me realize how small I am on this big Earth, and it’s very freeing,” says Brunswick County local and future pilot Michelle Rush of her love of soaring through the sky.
The aspiring aviator’s career began during her undergraduate years at Wingate University. Rush was pursuing a degree in pharmacy but she had a feeling that her true passions were elsewhere. After hearing a guest speaker share about falling in love with aviation after graduating college, Rush made the pivotal decision to spread her wings and take her first discovery flight. She has not looked back since.
Rush is slated to begin a six-month accelerated flight school program in January and has her sights set on joining the force of fewer than 150 Black female airline pilots. But the path to becoming a professional pilot is no easy feat.
Beyond preparing for two major Airman tests, Rush currently works two jobs — and is considering picking up a third — to save up for the exorbitant expenses of aviation training. Currently, her Career Pilot Program’s bill stacks up to the tune of $100,000, not accounting for the cost of books, headsets and basic living expenses.
While she is approved for a $93,000 loan, the future flyer still needs a final push to finance her dreams considering she will not be able to work during her training.
“Since this is an accelerated program, I will be flying multiple hours a day as well as doing ground school to get all of my ratings and certifications completed,” Rush explains. “Due to this hectic schedule, I am not permitted by the academy to have a side job.”
Ahead of her training, Rush is open to advice, encouragement and any monetary support from the community.
“I just like to know I have people behind me,” Rush says. “It gets very hard, and I really want to give up sometimes … it’s nice to have reminders that I can get there.”
Rush plans to give back to Brunswick County too. The frequent flyer already appears around the county for myriad public speaking gigs about careers in aviation to youth groups and schools, with the hopes to also help provide scholarships to future students one day.
“It would be very nice to have more people from my local community get into this,” Rush says.
Can you help Michelle Rush spread her wings?
Support Michelle’s flight school journey at her GoFundMe page or donate via Cash App @mshellrush.
“I’ve always had a passion for defying the odds and breaking barriers,” the up-and-coming commercial pilot says. “The only limit is your imagination. Sometimes aiming for the skies requires a little more help. Your consideration in giving me the extra push I need to attain my goals is greatly appreciated.”