From Street to Seat

Chief Warrant Officer Paige Quintana is flying her beloved UH-60 Blackhawk into EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 with fellow military pilots as part of the Aviation Branch Awareness Program.

Currently residing in Alaska, Paige has flown the Blackhawk since 2020, something she’s happy to talk about.

“I’m very proud to be a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot,” Paige said. “I just think they’re so fun. I think the mission set is incredibly well-rounded. Even up here in Alaska, we get to do a lot of fun stuff. We do water bucket training for firefighting; I’m about to fly down to Anchorage to the air assault school down there next week. It’s just an incredible airframe. It’s very multifaceted, definitely deserves a spot in the U.S. Army from the missions it can accomplish.”

But how did Paige find a job like this? While many warrant officers have to climb up the ranks, starting as crew chiefs or maintainers, her experience was a little different. Paige is a “street-to-seat” officer, a small subgenre of the warrant officer population.

“There’s a small, ever-growing population of street-to-seat warrant officers,” Paige said. “You submit an application, you go to a professional board, and you’re selected for warrant officer candidate school. You come from the civilian world, with no experience in the Army; you go to basic training, you go to Warrant Officer Candidate School, which is also called WOC, and then they just fast-track you right into flight school, which is what I did.”

Paige is here specifically to represent that small community, and as well as to encourage others to join. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough Army pilots at the moment.

“The Army, like most branches, is really hurting for pilots, so we want to capitalize on that side of our recruiting,” Paige said. “I’ll be able to offer any information that anybody might like to know in order to submit their own warrant officer application. That’s kind of the basis of what I’ll be doing. I’ll be sharing the beauty of the UH-60 Blackhawk and how much I love it with the rest of the public.”

Even before flying for the Army, Paige had an interest in aviation.

“I love helicopters. I’ve always wanted to fly helicopters,” Paige explained. “Anybody that grew up with me is aware of that. It’s funny, when I was in Teen Flight back in high school, I always told everybody that I want to go to the Coast Guard Academy and I want to fly for the Coast Guard. My life took some different turns and I didn’t end up doing that, but I did end up ultimately flying helicopters, which is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Despite that love for helicopters, Paige started out like most people, getting her certificate as a private, fixed-wing pilot. This love for aviation didn’t come from nowhere.

“I think I naturally gravitated towards it,” Paige said. “My dad was a pilot when I was younger, but as me and my sister grew up, he just didn’t really get to be as involved in aviation as I think he would have preferred. He’s a civilian pilot. He really helped me pursue that; he gave me the tools to really be able to make it out to the airport, and do what I needed to do. I definitely appreciate his unwavering support.”

Paige got her private pilot certificate in 2017. Before that, she was heavily involved in building aircraft. With the help of her local EAA chapter and a new program called Teen Flight, Paige had the opportunity to work with Van’s Aircraft specialists.

“I got selected for Teen Flight Two, and I think we started in 2011,” Paige said. “We started building our first RV-12, and I got to work side-by-side with Dick VanGrunsven and his brothers Stan and Jerry, and a bunch of other incredibly knowledgeable, qualified mentors, who come from backgrounds of A&Ps and IAs and some of them built other airplanes before that. I think it was 12 other students, and we got to learn under their expert tutelage and figure out how to build this RV-12. We finished that one, and I think the paint wasn’t even dry when we departed for Oshkosh.”

Working with EAA helped to prepare Paige for the career she loves, and she can’t wait to share it with others. She and her co-workers can be found at Boeing Plaza, and would love for you to come visit.

“I want to invite everybody to stop by and say hi,” Paige said. “I’m just really proud and really happy to be able to come full circle and share what I do for work with an organization that’s always been a part of my life.”

Post Comments