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January 29, 2018

#29 | U.S. Navy Helicopter Pilot on Crying After Work & Being Badass with Shelby D.

About This Episode

You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Shelby’s room that she shares with six other female pilots and an average college girl’s place full of Christmas lights, mermaid blankets, polaroid photos, and a projected white sheet to watch movies. Besides the fact that their room is all metal walls on a massive boat with a capacity of 5,000 people that are all serving in the U.S military on deployment in Japan.

“Femininity is not trying to blend in with the guys, not trying to be the strongest. Growing older I realized ‘I wish, as girls, we weren’t afraid to embrace the different sides of us that men don’t.”

Shelby blames the “Topgun” movie with Tom Cruise as well as her brothers for the inspiration to become a pilot. She was striving for flying jets in the military but scored only one point short on her qualifications and ended up flying in the rotary wing. She got deployed for her first mission in Japan just after graduation and her husband followed her.

“Being a pilot is a constant competition. Every day, during every flight. I struggle with being hypercompetitive.”

“I wanted to prove to someone, to everyone else, but myself, that I could do it.”

She confesses that her primary motivation for going into the military was to prove to everyone else that she can do it. She wanted that special “Wow! You’re a female pilot in the U.S. military! That’s pretty badass!” reaction, and she got it. The praise, the wonder, the amazement. She had also gotten the amazingly hard challenges of such a tough job of always trying to blend in with the guys, the insane competition, the hard working hours off and on deployment, and the need to always strive to be better than everyone else. She confesses that she does cry after work.

“Femininity is being able to cry. People say they have never see me cry. I cry so much, oh my Gosh.”

Being a feminist in the classic sense of the word, she praises equal opportunities and rights, but she refuses to blend with the guys blindly. Certain differences can’t be ignored. She shares her regular day on the ship during deployment at sea where besides her regular flying duties she also manages her squadron of 29 sailors. On this episode, we also talk about the dynamics of her husband being the military spouse, the harsh fate military women have where getting pregnant is not an option, and much more.

Tools & Resources Mentioned


  • NPR – NPR delivers breaking national and world news. Also top stories from business, politics, health, science, technology, music, arts and culture. Subscribe to podcasts and RSS feeds.
  • MyFitnessPalFree online calorie counter and diet plan. Lose weight by tracking your caloric intake quickly and easily. Find nutrition facts for over 2000000 foods.

People/Blogs to Follow

  • VAN DOG TRAVELLERHow Mike converted his van into a cozy campervan to live and travel in. All about van conversion, living in a van and traveling Europe in a van.
  • Girlskill Empowering YOU to live a life of freedom, joy & creativity your way. Talking to real women about real success & womanhood.
  • National Geographic MagazineNational Geographic stories take you on a journey that’s always enlightening, often surprising, and unfailingly fascinating.

Recommended Books

  • “Ego Is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday – Ego Is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to his­tory. We meet fascinating figures such as George Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who all reached the highest levels of power and success by con­quering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.
  • “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The True Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan” by Benjamin Ajak,‎ Benson Deng,‎ Alephonsion Deng,‎ Judy A. Bernstein – Between 1987 and 1989, Alepho, Benjamin, and Benson, like tens of thousands of young boys, took flight from the massacres of Sudan’s civil war. They became known as the Lost Boys. With little more than the clothes on their backs, sometimes not even that, they streamed out over Sudan in search of refuge. Their journey led them first to Ethiopia and then, driven back into Sudan, toward Kenya. They walked nearly one thousand miles, sustained only by the sheer will to live.
  • “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho – The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.
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