Hello everyone!  My name is Rachelle and I am extremely excited to become a part of the family here.  I think it is fantastic that Fightersweep is looking to expand its audience and sphere of influence to the General Aviation side of flying.  The timing couldn’t have been better; I have been wanting to expand my knowledge of the military side of it.
A brief background about myself: I was raised in a small town just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania named Beaver Falls.  After I graduated high school I attended Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina.  In 2001, I drove across the country and moved to Southern California, my home now for almost fifteen years.
Music has consumed most of my life and was my very first love since I was little girl.  I turned that love into a profession and for nearly two decades now, I have been a veteran in the music industry–operating in several different capacities.  It is interesting; as you get older and gain more life experience, your vision and directions change–as do your passions.
My love affair with flying certainly came as a surprise and was definitely not a direction I’d ever thought to look in. I met my flight instructor on Facebook of all places, and the rest in history.  My first lesson was August 13, 2010, and it changed my life forever. It is so weird looking back; not once did I ever think I’d develop a love for flying, or become a pilot and I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else!
It’s been five years and I have grown such a passion, love, and admiration for aviation and its community, and I am so grateful and proud to be a part of it.  I fly numerous types of aircraft and currently hold a Multi-Engine Instrument certificate.  I also have many hours in a Robinson R44 and plan to finish my rotary add-on by the end of this year.  I have also started the process of attaining type-ratings in different jets and my goal is to both continue my upward journey and my education at the same time.
I feel it is important to learn as much as I can about aviation through different experiences–making me a safer, more competent pilot.  Life is all about the journey, which helps us grow as individuals; there is so much to learn within aviation itself–the avenues are endless!  I hold myself to the highest standard possible when it comes to flying and my flight training.  As much as I like to have fun, safety is of the utmost importance. As E. Hamilton Lee said, “There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.”
I would eventually like to help create the same opportunities I’ve enjoyed for other women and young people interested in flying.  My instructors and mentors have encouraged me, and there is such an amazing feeling in paying that forward. My heart is leading me in the direction of becoming a mentor in the industry myself, encouraging as many people as possible to get involved and pursue their dream of earning their wings and getting involved with aviation.
I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given in this community. For instance, just last week, I was personally invited to welcome the two new combat-coded F-35A Lightning II fighter jets to Hill Air Force Base in Layton, Utah.  What an honor, to say the least!  On September 2nd, we showed up at Hill with only a select few other media outlets. We were escorted to a special area where we would be able to capture both video footage and still photographs of the new F-35s.  This event was quite different than any other that I have attended: the tone was–by far–much more serious and purpose-driven than what I am used to.
For those who know me or follow any of my social media feeds, they know I am an overall silly, goofy, and fun individual that definitely likes to bring positive vibes and smiles to those I encounter.  Needless to say, I had a tough crowd this time around!  But, nevertheless, it was certainly a great opportunity to see behind the scenes at a military base–areas that are normally off-limits to photographers. It was truly amazing to see different military aircraft up close; meet pilots, maintainers, public affairs specialists; and lastly, to be a part of an exciting moment in the history of the USAF!

Rachelle with "Hitman," the Director of Operations for the 34th Fighter Squadron "Rude Rams."
Rachelle with “Hitman,” the Director of Operations for the 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams.”

I am truly looking forward to what the future brings for the rest of this year!  I will be training, learning, attending different aviation-related activities such as charity events, airshows and hopefully being involved with more military-oriented projects. Most importantly, I am really looking forward to meeting new pilots and peers!  That’s one of the things I love most about this community: it doesn’t matter what walk of life we come from, for we all share in a common goal–broadening our vertical horizons and exploring the gift of wings!  I am excited to share my journey that led me from recording studios to runways, bringing something new, fresh and fun to everyone here at Fightersweep.com.