As a young girl growing up in Tennessee, Demetria “Dina” Elosiebo’s nights were filled with dreams of her soaring through the night sky, her four younger siblings giddily clinging to her back. Sometimes they reached 30 feet, other times 1,000 – depending on her faith that day.
“Ever since I was 7 or 8, I would have dreams about literally carrying my siblings on my back,” Elosiebo said. “And in my dreams, I was like flapping my wings like a chicken, and I could at some point carry two of them. But as they got bigger, I could only carry one. And I was like, ‘I’m going to have to do something about this.’”
Now, those long ago dreams of taking flight have become reality. Thirty-three-year-old Elosiebo recently graduated from Army flight school, becoming the first African-American female aviator in the District of Columbia National Guard. She joins an elite group; only 5 percent of the Army National Guard’s 5,763 pilots are women.
“It’s an honor to come behind so many people,” said Elosiebo, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
No one in her family was in the military or knew how to fly, but from an early age, Elosiebo knew she wanted to be a pilot.
So she started taking flying lessons at small aviation programs for children near her Memphis home. While visiting a flying group called the Memphis Blackhawks Aviation Association, her mother said, her then 12-year-old daughter learned a valuable lesson: Your gender doesn’t matter when it comes to flying a plane.
“I clearly remember her saying, ‘Oh, women can fly?’ said her mom, Renee Elosiebo. “And the pilot (who was a woman) said, ‘Of course they can.’”
That day, Elosiebo got to “co-pilot” the plane. And from then on she was “giddy” and “wanted to go back again and again, her mom said.
“Most children say they want to do something when they’re younger, and then they change their desires many times,” Renee Elosiebo said. “But hers never changed — she wanted to fly.”
Her dad admired her bravery early on.
“A lot of people are scared to fly as passengers — she wasn’t scared,” said Augustine Elosiebo.
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