Vernice FlyGirl Armour

Vernice Armour Keynote Speaker

  • America's First African American Female Combat Pilot
  • Author, Zero To Breakthrough; and Consultant to Business
  • Former Marine & Cop

Vernice Armour's Biography

Keynote speaker, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour’s life has been a series of rigorous challenges. Growing up as the only daughter among three brothers, she learned early on how to stand her ground. Her journey is marked by a series of pioneering achievements, notably as the first African-American woman to become a combat pilot in the United States. Her military career is distinguished, including two deployments to Iraq with the Marines. Additionally, she played a crucial role as a diversity liaison officer at the Pentagon for the Headquarters Marine Corps. Transitioning from military to civilian life, Vernice embarked on a successful path as an entrepreneur and business consultant. She is also the author of the empowering book, Zero to Breakthrough, The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter, where she shares her insights and experiences.

In 2007, FlyGirl founded VAI Consulting & Training, LLC, where she assists people and organizations in making bold decisions and achieving transformative outcomes through her “Zero to BreakthroughTM” Success Model. This approach, which was instrumental in her own career advancement and aerial combat survival, is now shared at top-tier meetings and conferences globally. Additionally, FlyGirl is recognized as a Gutsy Confidence Mentor for high-ranking Women in Tech executives.

As a Black, gay woman, and a single mother, FlyGirl’s diverse background enriches her contributions as a member of the Forbes School of Business & Technology Board of Advisors and the COMCAST/NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Council.

As a dynamic speaker, Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour delivers powerful insights and inspiring stories drawn from her experiences in both military combat and the business world. She specializes in empowering individuals and organizations to embrace a ‘Get Gutsy’ mindset, fostering a strong internal drive that leads to achieving significant objectives.

Her groundbreaking achievements as a pilot have earned FlyGirl two honorary doctorates and numerous accolades, particularly in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour’s remarkable journey has captured widespread media attention, featuring on platforms such as CNN, MSNBC, The View, FOX News, and Oprah Winfrey. Besides her aviation career, she has also been a professional football player for the San Diego Sunfire and a two-time champion of Camp Pendleton’s Strongest Warrior Competition.

Currently, she is in the process of authoring her forthcoming book, The Gutsy Move.


How did it all start? Vernice was born in Chicago, IL in 1973, and moved to Memphis, TN after her parents divorced when she was three. By the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a police officer that rode a horse downtown. She received her first pony as a gift on the Christmas day following her fourth birthday and her dream quickly started to have a foundation in reality. In 1991, she graduated from John Overton High School for Creative and Performing Arts where she was very active in the music program, class vice president, a member of Mu Alpha Theta (mathematics honor society), and The National Honor Society.

In 1993, the future combat pilot enlisted in the Army Reserves and joined the Army ROTC program while at Middle Tennessee State University. During an Army ROTC career day, the seed of becoming a pilot was planted when Vernice saw the image of a young Black female in an Army flight suit. “Now why didn’t I think of that!” was her first thought!

In June of 1996, after a brief stint as a Nashville Sheriff’s Department correctional officer, Vernice took a break from college to accept an invitation to the Nashville Police Academy. She graduated in December 1996 – and later became the first woman of color on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad. She graduated from MTSU in December of 1997 with her B.S. in Physical Education: Emphasis in Exercise Science.

With the aviation seed in full bloom, Vernice was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps on December 12, 1998 and on her way to flight school. When Vernice finally earned her wings in July 2001, the ambitious pilot ranked No. 1 out of both her class of 12 and of the last 200 to graduate. She made the Naval Air Station’s prestigious Commodore’s List, received the Academic Achievement Award, was the top graduate in her class, and went on to make history as the Marine Corps’ first African-American female pilot.

After flight school, Vernice was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton near San Diego, CA, piloting the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. While there she was Camp Pendleton’s “Female Athlete of the Year” and two-time titleholder in their “Strongest Warrior” Competition.

Deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, Vernice Armour was recognized by the Department of Defense as America’s first African-American female combat pilot. Vernice flew above the deserts of Iraq in her missile-equipped attack helicopter, engaging the enemy and scouting the roads from her cockpit, making sure they were safe for her fellow Marines and soldiers on the ground.

Upon leaving the military after the completion of two tours in Iraq, Vernice launched VAI Consulting and Training, LLC. She now resides in Atlanta, GA with her daughter Noah…her gutsiest move yet.

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Vernice Armour's Speaking Topics

Cleared Hot!

You HAVE Permission to Engage Employee engagement, customer engagement, team engagement, personal engagement. No matter what area an organization is strategically trying to improve, individuals have to be engaged and execute in order for the plan forward! The key is giving the permission to engage from the inside out. Once that happens, your organization will be CLEARED HOT! There’s no secret…a solid flight plan is the key.

Who Needs A Runway?! Take Off From Where You Are!!!

The bottom line is that we have to move into action from where we are! Unfortunately, many people become paralyzed in the preparation phase. Decide what you want, put your stake in the ground and execute! Vernice calls this making a commitment to the commitment. Give your organization the boost they need to come together as a team, understand how their objectives support the overall strategy and accomplish the mission achieving the desired results!

Zero To Breakthrough™

A Breakthrough Mentality Creates A Breakthrough Life! Put passion back in your life and design the path to your dreams with a ‘Breakthrough Mentality.’ Be inspired by Vernice’s personal story of setbacks, challenges, adventure, success and triumph. Vernice takes you on an amazing journey through her life experiences and, most importantly, the lessons learned. Unleash the personal leadership power needed to take your life to the next level!

(Great for Employee Resource Groups, Women, Minorities and Students)

Driving Diversity Deep into the DNA of Your Organization

One Mission, One Goal, One Team Vernice reveals, as a former Diversity Officer for Headquarters Marine Corps and liaison to the Pentagon, what it took to help a 200,000 personnel organization get back on track! When you bring people together, you will have differences and similarities that result in tension and complexities…THIS IS NORMAL! How you MANAGE diversity is the key!

(Great for senior and middle management, Diversity Councils and Employee Resource Groups)

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Videos of Vernice Armour

Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour | In2Risk 2023 Featured Keynote Speaker
Listening to Your Inner Voice
Listening to Your Inner Voice
Acknowledge Obstacles – Don’t Give Them Power
Acknowledge Obstacles – Don’t Give Them Power
Vernice "FlyGirl" Armour
FlyGirl Military Profile
FlyGirl Military Profile
The New Conversation: DEI and Social Justice
The New Conversation: DEI and Social Justice

Books by Vernice Armour

Zero to Breakthrough
Zero to Breakthrough

Comments & Testimonials

There’s no shortage of achievements. You’re awesome girl… You’re awesome!
I was so inspired, I hit the ground running with several ideas that I have been planning for months now…
M. Mack Jones Bank of America
One need only hear Captain Armour speak to understand why she is so sought after by CNN and shows such as Tavis Smiley and Oprah … This history making, mission-focused woman represents the ‘total package’.
Paula Miller-Lester Publisher, Minorities and Women in Business

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