Marine combat pilot to kick off Pillars of America speaker series

Vernice 'FlyGirl' Armour blasted through glass ceilings at mach speed
Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour

If there’s one thing Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour knows, it’s how to accomplish a goal. The former Marine combat pilot has accomplished many feats in her life, and set several precedents doing so. Now she will be kicking off this year’s Pillars of America Speaker Series on April 20 at Centennial Hall.


Armour had dreams early on of being both a police officer and a combat pilot. She realized both, even flying missions in Iraq, but didn’t stop there. She became America’s first black female combat pilot after two overseas tours. Among her other awards are an Air Medal with a Star for valor and 13 Strike Flight Awards, as well as a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and a Navy Presidential Unit Citation, among others.

After leaving the military, she wanted to help others accomplish their goals and created her own philosophy called Zero to Breakthrough and launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC to help other people and businesses to succeed.

Her company is also a success story, producing more than six figures in revenues its first year.

“Along the way of creating different accomplishments and breakthroughs, I made history several times not because I was trying to make history to, it just so happened that somebody else hadn’t done it yet,” Armour said of her career. “I was just trying to have a good time, the whole carpe diem, seize the day, adventure and challenge.”

Armour was born in Chicago and grew up in Memphis, Tenn. As a child, she dreamed of being a policewoman, protecting downtown on horseback. She would later accomplish that dream, only riding a Harley Davidson, which she referred to as her “steel horse.”

“On that journey to becoming a police officer, I saw a woman in a flight suit and that planted the seed for wanting to be a pilot, a combat pilot,” she said. She was already getting a first taste of the military world at that time through her ROTC program at Middle Tennessee State University.

After accomplishing her police goals, she went on to the challenges of becoming a combat pilot.

She started speaking at different engagements following her tours in Iraq, which would lead to her new program and company.

“I really enjoyed it, really enjoyed helping people, you know, through my experiences,” she said. “And now I like to say I help people unleash their inner combat pilot and break their own personal sound barriers.”

“And now at this point in my life I say I just wear a different uniform showing others how to utilize the principles that I learned whether it was as a police officer or a Marine combat pilot by creating their own flight plan and creating breakthroughs in their life.”

Armour has also pioneered her program into a book, ”Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter,” set for release April 28.

Her accomplishments have garnered national attention, including Oprah, CNN, Tavis Smiley, NPR and others. Now that list includes Juneau.

Armour is excited about her first trip to Alaska, saying she looks forward to partaking in the outdoor activities that are so prevalent here. She plans to discover everything Alaska has to offer. Speaking for the Glacier Valley Rotary only adds to that pleasure, as she says it’s a very cool thing to speak for the world’s first service club organization.

“The first objective of Rotary is the development of acquaintance is an opportunity for service. And if all of us would be of service to each other, how great our world would be,” said Armour.

Her speech will outline points in her book and program, with the core on having a breakthrough mentality and refusing to settle in all sections in life.

“The main theme of my talk is going to be transformation. How do we transform from where we are to where we want to be. How do we create what we want. How do we achieve our dreams. How do we create breakthrough results, you know, for the entrepreneurs and the corporations and the businesses out there. How do we innovate in this time of global economy to stimulate more resources in our communities.”

Doors at the event open at 11:15 a.m. with lunch served at 11:30 a.m. The program begins at noon, lasting about an hour and a half. Tickets are available at Hearthside Books.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or


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