I am an MH-60 Romeo, Navy helicopter, instructor pilot at a fleet replacement squadron. We teach the new students who come in from flight school how to fly that Navy aircraft. I’m also the aviation safety officer responsible for the safety programs to the commanding officer of that squadron. I am Lieutenant Sarah Flaherty and I am a Navy pilot. I first became interested in the Navy when I was researching scholarship opportunities for college and the Navy ROTC scholarship was something that was being offered. I was able to visit a couple of the ROTC units at various colleges. I applied for the scholarship and received a four-year scholarship to College of the Holy Cross. We get to deploy with the Navy during the summer. Naval aviator looked like a pretty cool job. Just the attitude and the cool stuff that they were doing. After college I went to flight school down in Pensacola, Florida. You first start out in a ground school where you learn basic aviation skill sets and you’re also trained in water survival. Then you move on to primary where you learn to fly a fixed-wing aircraft first and really learn the basics of aviation. Once you’re done with that you select – I selected helicopters and I went to the training helicopter that the Navy uses. Not only do I get to fly fun aircraft but the leadership opportunities have been great and that’s just really why I love my job. My squadron’s deployed in support of many humanitarian missions, including Katrina and tsunami relief. During my counter-drug operations cruise I was involved in chasing high-speed boats and doing boardings on suspected drug boats. I’d say the greatest challenge is convincing people that – that women can do this non-traditional job and you can be a pilot in the Navy. I never felt different; I was just a pilot and I think that’s great and I think that it just shows that – that women can do any job that they want to. I’m proud to call myself a Naval Officer and a Naval Aviator. I’ve gained so much experience and I really feel like I’m – I’m going to come away a better person with the skills that I’ve learned and the leadership experience. For anyone who’s thinking about joining the Navy or becoming a pilot, I’d say go for it. My experience in the Navy has been awesome. I get to fly aircraft. I’ve seen places that people – don’t normally get to see. I work with a great group of people. And then I also have the honor of serving my country. The Navy’s had a lot of positive effects on me. I’ve really grown as a person in my time in the Navy. I’ve received training that’s just unrivaled in the civilian sector. And the leadership opportunity is – is something that you don’t get anywhere else in the world.