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In Her Corner: Military veteran brings skillset to Collier County Medflight

Posted: 12:56 PM, May 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-15 13:02:51-04

NAPLES, Fla. --"It's been twenty-five years, and I know it sounds really cheesy, but this is fun," said Chief Medflight Pilot Virginia Williams as she pointed to the helicopter behind her.

As Williams went through the helicopter, pointing at switches and buttons, she had a smile from ear to ear.

"She’s our baby girl," she said.

Flying is clearly her passion now, but being a pilot wasn't always on her radar. As a young girl, Williams had a different career on her mind.

"I always wanted to be a police officer or a soldier, but I didn’t know how to make them mesh."

That’s exactly what Williams did. Her career took off when she joined the Military Police Corps, and that eventually lead her to become a drill sergeant at just 22-years-old.

She knew her orders weren't going to be easy especially with a young daughter at home. Thanks to her military family though, she was able to make it through those times.

"At 3:30, 3:45 in the morning-- I would scoop up my sleeping child put her on the couch, lock up the house and go to work," she explained. "There would be a week in a row I didn't see her with her eyes open."

A few years later, Williams was stationed in Italy and a friend inspired her to take her career to new heights.

“I saw what she was doing, she was flying Chinooks and had just got back from Iraq when I met her," said Williams. "I thought that looked really fun. And she, of course, encouraged me”

From the get-go, Williams knew she wanted to be a pilot that helped people. Something that she still does currently as the Chief Pilot with Collier County Medflight.

"There are a lot of cool things you can do with a helicopter, but what is more important than helping someone out."

Williams admitted being a pilot meant taking on a completely new mindset.

“When flying you have to be gentle and not dominant."

Though it wasn’t always easy, it’s a career she would encourage others to think about.

“Do it, just do it. Flight school wasn’t easy but it was one day at a time."