When I was flying in the middle of combat and needed to engage the enemy, we had to ask for permission to shoot our weapons. The magical phrase we needed to hear in order to protect the Marines and Soldiers on the ground was ‘Cleared Hot.’ As you’re reading this, I’d bet it’s safe to say you’re probably on a different type of battlefield. Maybe for you it’s combat in corporate America, you’re a teacher in today’s classroom, or you’re an administrative professional in a large association.
Whatever your situation, you probably have challenges that you would like to effectively destroy!
You HAVE permission to Engage! Notice I didn’t put the emphasis on permission, but on HAVE. You’ve ALWAYS had permission. It’s such a simple statement, but one that is overlooked by many. You wouldn’t believe how many times someone has told me they lost their dream, are too busy taking care of everyone else and don’t know HOW to take care of themselves anymore, or even worse, they felt guilty taking care of themselves! Employee engagement, customer engagement, relationship engagement or career engagement. Why do so many of our team members need permission from outside of themselves, when the bottom line is, they HAVE permission to Engage? They’ve ALWAYS had it, they just needed to give it to themselves! I’m standing by to help your team or organization take the next step and execute…CLEARED HOT!
Who is FLYGIRL?
Once you are CLEARED HOT, now what? Known simply as “FlyGirl”, Vernice ignites her audiences with a dynamic spark that can’t be extinguished. Soar through the execution of any plan by harnessing the power of a “Breakthrough Mentality” mindset! From the moment she leaps into the audience, she shows attendees how to go from “Zero to Breakthrough” and create a personal flight plan utilizing her candid strategies to help win on the battlefield of life!
Leveraging her “Breakthrough Mentality” mindset, she propelled herself from beat cop to combat pilot in a record-breaking three years and became the United States Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot and, shortly after, she was recognized as America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot by the Department of Defense.
Upon completion of two tours in Iraq and leaving the military, Vernice launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. By applying the Zero to Breakthrough™ Success Model to her own company, Vernice produced over six-figures in revenue within the first 12 months and over a million in the first 5 years! Her passion is helping others create similar results.
As featured on Oprah Winfrey, CNN, Tavis Smiley, NPR and others, Vernice Armour’s fresh style and presentation methods have inspired hundreds of organizations and individuals.
Vernice ultimately impacts organizations and individuals with an understanding of the passion and leadership required to excel. Through her keynotes, executive and group coaching, seminars and executive retreats, Vernice conveys messages of Zero to Breakthrough™ through her unique insight and life strategy: “You HAVE permission to Engage!”
Vernice travels extensively in order to create a global movement based on the Breakthrough Mentality mindset. In order for us to change the current conditions we are going to need to think and execute differently. We are going to need leaders to step up, lead and Get Gutsy. Our society and global community needs people to take personal responsibility and accountability. We win or lose together. One Mission, One Goal, One Team™.
Her signature book, Zero to BreakthroughTM (Penguin 2011) chronicles the process she utilized to transition from beat cop to America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot. She is an internationally recognized inspirational leadership keynote speaker for premier leadership conferences and Fortune 500 companies.
Vernice has two honorary doctorates, been featured extensively in the media to include Oprah Winfrey, CNN, MSNBC and the View and is a member of the COMCAST/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council. She has also received awards as a pioneering pilot, to include her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She was the Marine Corps’ first African American Female pilot, first African American woman on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad, Camp Pendleton’s 2001 Female Athlete of the Year, two-time titleholder in Camp Pendleton’s annual Strongest Warrior Competition, and a running back for the San Diego Sunfire women’s professional football team.
FlyGirl – A Personal View
If you were to ask Vernice for yourself, how she accomplished so much at such an early age, she would tell you she’s standing on strong shoulders and had great mentors. So, to give you a closer look at where Vernice came from, we’ll take you on a more personal journey of how she grew up and some of her defining moments.
Vernice was born in Chicago, IL in 1973, and moved to Memphis, TN after her parents divorced when she was 3 years of age. By the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. Her first little pony was given to her on the Christmas following her fourth birthday, and her dream quickly started to have a foundation in reality. In 1991, she graduated from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she was very active in the music program, class Vice President, and a member of Mu Alpha Theta (the mathematics honor society) and The National Honor Society.
Vernice marched in the military boot steps of both her dads; Clarence Jackson, a former Marine, who married Vernice’s mother Authurine, and her father, Gaston C. Armour Jr. of Chicago, a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and in the fall semester joined the Army ROTC program while enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young black female in an Army flight suit. “Now why didn’t I think of that!” was her first thought! In June of 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department Correction Officer, Vernice took additional time off from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy and graduated as a police officer in December 1996. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with her B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science. In 1998, with the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998 and on her way to flight school.
When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award and was her classes top graduate and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African-American female pilot.
After flight school, Vernice was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, piloting the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, she was recognized as America’s first African-American female combat pilot. Vernice flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter, engaging the enemy and scouting the roads from her cockpit, making sure they were safe for her fellow Marines and soldiers on the ground. She has completed 2 combat tours of duty in the Gulf.
“We have worked with many speakers over the years, and Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour is among the absolute best. She was more than efficient and capable, and truly exceeded our expectations, from the pre-event prep call, until she walked off the stage into an audience of freshly motivated and energized employees. She absorbed and addressed their challenges and concerns as if they were her own, and expertly incorporated an impressive command of our internal language, culture, and objectives. All while infusing bits of humor and contagious energy. She’s on top of her game and industry trends and understands our current corporate climate as it parallels with leadership strategies. Her step-by-step breakthrough mentality model is relatable, and what is more, executable. And we’re off to the races getting gutsy because of her. She gave my team permission to engage, and I’m excited and braced for a no limits 2018.”
Combat tests you. Being a beat cop tests you. Life tests you. Three brothers and being the only girl…tests you. Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour has been tested her whole life. A gutsy trailblazer, her resume is an impressive collection of “firsts” including America’s first Black woman combat pilot. She served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine. She was also a diversity liaison officer to the Pentagon for Headquarters Marine Corps.
After her military service, FlyGirl revved up her career in the private sector as an entrepreneur, consultant to business, and author of Zero to Breakthrough, The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. As a speaker, FlyGirl unleashes hard-hitting advice and amazing anecdotes from her adventures on the battlefield and in business. She helps individuals and organizations Get Gutsy and build a sustainable inner force and conviction, that results in accomplishing significant goals.
In 2007, FlyGirl launched VAI Consulting & Training, LLC. Through that work, she helps individuals and organizations make gutsy moves and create breakthrough results by applying her “Zero to BreakthroughTM” Success Model – a mindset that helped to propel her career and kept her safe in air combat. FlyGirl regularly takes her message to premier meetings and conferences worldwide and is a Gutsy Confidence Mentor for elite senior executive Women in Tech.
As her newest business venture, in 2020 FlyGirl started FlyGirl Construction, a General Contracting Firm in the Atlanta, GA area.
As a Black gay woman and single mom, FlyGirl brings vital experience to her role as a member of the Forbes School of Business & Technology Board of Advisors and COMCAST/NBC Universal Joint Diversity Council.
FlyGirl has two honorary doctorates and has received numerous awards as a pioneering pilot, including honors for her commanding role in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour’s story has been featured in the media including on CNN, MSNBC, The View, FOX News, Oprah Winfrey, and many more, along with being a running back for the San Diego Sunfire professional women’s football team and two-time titleholder of Camp Pendleton’s Strongest Warrior Competition.
She is currently working on her next book, The Gutsy Move.
Historical Flight Path
How did it all start? Vernice was born in Chicago, IL in 1973, and moved to Memphis, TN after her parents divorced when she was three. By the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. She received her first pony as a gift on the Christmas day following her fourth birthday and her dream quickly started to have a foundation in reality. In 1991, she graduated from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts where she was very active in the music program, class vice president, a member of Mu Alpha Theta (mathematics honor society), and The National Honor Society.
In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and joined the Army ROTC program while at Middle Tennessee State University. During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young Black female in an Army flight suit. “Now why didn’t I think of that!” was her first thought.
In June of 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department correctional officer, Vernice took a break from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy. She graduated in December 1996 – and later became the first woman of color on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with her B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science.
With the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998, and on her way to flight school. When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out of both her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award, was the top graduate in her class, and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African American female pilot.
After flight school, Vernice was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, piloting the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. While there she was Camp Pendleton’s “Female Athlete of the Year” and two-time titleholder in their “Strongest Warrior” Competition. Deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Vernice was recognized by the Department of Defense as America’s first African American female combat pilot. Vernice flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter, engaging the enemy and scouting the roads from her cockpit, making sure they were safe for her fellow Marines and soldiers on the ground.
Upon leaving the military after the completion of two tours in Iraq, Vernice launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. She now resides in Atlanta, GA with her daughter Noah…her gutsiest move yet.
“Your comments and insights were integral in making the training program kickoff beneficial to all participants. Members of the training committee received many complimentary comments about the Kickoff. In particular, a few of the comments received are:
- ‘Vernice was so inspiring and enthusiastic. She is awesome. She made us all want to follow our passion and break out of our box!’
- ‘Vernice was absolutely wonderful! I would highly recommend people to listen to her. You can feel the passion!’
Again, thank you for being a part of the CAASD Support Staff Training Program Kickoff and making it an enjoyable day for the participants.”