REACHING NEW HEIGHTS
By: Krysta Kearney
This week’s fearless female is Tory Crosby, a 29 year old pilot based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Little did she know a mere 6 years ago that she would be flying high around the world, quite literally, on a daily basis with the lens of a bird's eye view. Once realizing her passion, she has found herself in a career that she is completely in love with and is excelling faster and being stronger by the day. As a young woman in aviation she is challenging the industry of the past and setting the bar for inspiring females of the future. Her short career exhibits high accolades, in five years she has already become a captain and is training for management. Not only is she a Rockstar amongst her colleagues, interesting enough, she has found ‘stardom’ on the social media platform, TikTok. Her account has almost 500,000 followers and has millions of likes. With her account trending and only gaining in momentum, it has boasted both her confidence and career while also inspiring viewers. Her informational videos show things like what a pilot’s view is from the cock-pit and the perks of the job. Crosby is bridging the gap between passenger and pilot and bringing her world closer, humanizing the pilot more than ever before.
Growing up in quintessential blue collar America, her description of her upbringing is one of love and virtue, a caring and strong family unit and a mother and father who were able to provide for their children and were still deeply in love with each other after many years of marriage. Her mother was a doctor, dad an electrician and brother; a sibling that she got along with, they had a great relationship and even more so now. Life was good, she had many friends and lived the life of a young girl in small town USA, Lakeland, Florida. After she graduated high school she attempted college but knew from the beginning it wasn’t for her, she wasn’t motivated and had no interest in it. Her parents wanted her to go, she gave it a shot and it became very apparent that it wasn’t for her. They recognized this and were supportive of her decision to drop out. They said if school wasn’t for her then she needed to find what was, what would fulfill her in life.
Knowing the world is her oyster, and that she must possess a pearl, she began to think about what she would like to do, what were her interests, desires? Crosby knew that she wanted to move, discover something new. It would have been easy for her to move to Miami or Tampa but she wanted to go big and take the leap. She was young, so why not? As a waitress she saved up a bunch of money and travelled to three large cities to see what suited her new home best, NY, LA and Las Vegas. In her eyes, these were some of the largest cities that present so much opportunity, so she went to check out every one of them.
NY, she didn’t like because of winter and the public transportation, LA wasn’t for her, as it was also large and vast...it just didn’t feel right but once in Vegas, she found home. It seemed perfect. The weather was great, cheap living, endless opportunities, it was a no brainer. After returning home from all three and having made her decision, no one believed that she would actually make the move, then one day, at 20 years old, she packed the car and headed on the long trek across country on her own, to a world unknown, the abyss of the desert, a land of new opportunity. Viva Las Vegas!
Excited and nervous, she found an apartment and at first struggled. She was relying on the restaurant industry, as that was her background and she knew in Vegas you could make good money but what she didn’t know is that you had to be 21 to be a server and a bartender, different from Florida. Once she turned 21 she got a bartending job and started making serious money but knew she couldn’t do that forever. The first five years in Vegas she worked odd and end restaurant jobs and had fun. Then, tragically, back in Florida her mother got cancer. It wasn’t until the last few months of her mother being sick that she learned just how sick her mother actually was.
Crosby would fly back and forth from Vegas, bouncing weekly from state to state, continuing the repetitive cycle, so that she could maintain her job. Her mother was an incredibly strong woman, a doctor, well respected in the community and a good mother. She didn’t want anyone to know how bad her cancer was. She knew it was terminal but never shared it with her family until it felt like she had to. Tragically, her mother passed away. Crosby felt lost and in mourning, she realized she needed to be active, instead of nestling into the depressive hole she could have very easily fallen into, she started to make some changes. Seeking life, she reflected on what she might want to do, what her goals were, hence a bucket list emerged. Her mother’s passing gave her the vision to take the plunge, turn her life around and do something different.
She saw an advertisement to learn how to fly a helicopter, it said they would give you controls on day one if you really want to fly! So she figured, why not…check it off the bucket list, it could be fun! Once she was in the sky, she instantly fell in love with it. She got back on the ground and asked, ‘How much is it gonna cost for me to be a helicopter pilot?’ She never looked back, became obsessed, dove in head first and committed. Within three months she had her helicopter license, yes, three months! She took some insight from a friend in aviation who told her if she ever wanted to make it a career she should really consider switching to planes, (as she calls it, fixed wing) so she saved up some money, quit her job, got all the credentials she needed to fly fixed wing and started her aviation career.
Infatuated, she found her passion and has never looked back. People always ask her if she has family in aviation, or any influences and she doesn’t, it just came out of nowhere, literally, from an ad. She had no idea that she would like it, had no premonitions and hope that she even would, was not thinking about her career at all, just something to check off the list. The memoriam of her mother in ways really gave her the power under her own wings to try new things, live on the wild side and not take life for granted.
She didn’t have to force herself to study, she thoroughly enjoyed it. For fun, she has always done logic games and math puzzles, so in some ways, the logistical side of the job was something she was already interested in. In aviation, there is a bit of everything, engineering, science and mechanical studies. Crosby says there is so much memorization, it’s an endless opportunity to learn. She buckled down and studied all the time, and truly became fascinated, enthralled with all aviation had to offer. She just wanted to get better. There were times that were rough, such as stormy days, days that seemed extremely scary but now, in retrospect it isn’t scary, she just needed to learn how to get through, and understand how to do it safely. Also, who can’t deny the perks of flying. She gets to travel, see the world and get paid while doing it. Before flying she had been saving up all her money to travel and now she gets paid to do it! It’s a dream come true.
There is a downside to pilot life, as it’s hard to live a normal civilian american lifestyle. Relationships...what are those?! Crosby doesn’t have much of a personal life, she is always gone, always flying. Since she started aviation, she has been single. Right now, she doesn’t consider it a burden, her lust is for the sky and travel and advancing her career, not in starting a family or finding a boyfriend, a life partner.
She doesn’t go on dates when she travels, she is typically planning her next trip or has been flying all day and is tired. She wants to go on an adventure and explore, not sit on a dating app or spend the little time she has trying to meet people. She is content and happy where she is. Being in the aviation industry she sees time and time again, couples having a hard time, as it really takes a toll on their relationship. It makes her happy that she doesn’t have to go through that, that she is content without it. She understands, it has to be hard to be the partner at home while your husband or wife is out flying, but it’s hard on the pilots as well.
For the past three years she was working for AirSmart Share. She loved the position, they treated her well, she was promoted to a captain, she had great colleagues. It was perfect for her. They provide charter flights on demand for both business and leisure. Then, about a year ago a new opportunity presented itself that she couldn’t turn down. It was such a huge step in her career. She now works at Dixon Aviation Management Company. Here, she is a captain, as well as managing five different aircrafts. She is being taught how to become a high level manager as well. Crosby compared a portion of the job as being similar to a paid internship, which will eventually lead her to where she ultimately wants to be, working in the management side of aviation. There are a lot of perks to being a manager. For managers, the sky's the limit, you can go as far as you want to go, there is a lifetime of knowledge to learn and you eventually become your own boss, whereas being a pilot you end up taping out at a certain salary. Currently, her job encompasses everything, she is flying, travelling and managing air crafts all at the same time.
In time the position will lead to her overseeing all aspects of aviation management, and she will end up traveling a lot less while getting paid more. Five more years in the industry is a realistic goal as to when she can start to find herself in that position. She still has a lot to learn and doesn’t want to rush it. For now, she is happy where she is, she wants to travel and fly all over the world.
Crosby meeting her current boss is kind of a funny story, what’s that old saying; ‘You never know who you meet and what position they might hold in your future?’ Sometime ago she was asked by her last employer to fly a jet to a Baja race, which is an off-roading race that starts in Las Vegas and ends in Reno. The man that was providing private jet transportation needed jets and pilots, so he called Airsmart. Crosby happened to be one of the pilots that participated. She recalls meeting him and didn’t think much of it. Turns out the passengers in her plane praised her and gave her remarkable reviews.
Time went by and randomly on the radios, they were talking, (as pilots are constantly talking to other pilots in the sky) she had no idea that they knew each other and she said over to the radio to her fellow pilot, ‘Hey, I will race you back to Vegas’, and he was like, ‘Ok, let’s do it!!’ She beat him back to Vegas and he said on the radio, ‘Is this that woman pilot that flew at the Reno race?’ She said 'yes' and he invited her to his hanger, saying he wanted to talk to her. He knew that she was interested in management and wanted to offer her a position.
Basically, he said he had seen what she does on social media, see’s how fast she grows and how dedicated she is, how much she actually likes it. He knew that she would work hard. He recognized that since she was skipping milestones and always reaching to the top, that she was capable of working even harder.
She was trying to not show how enthused and excited she was. People don’t typically have an opportunity like this until they are ten years into their career, her being so young and being presented with this, it was like a dream come true. He offered her a position, and she took it. Now, she is chief pilot but also in management training meaning she is flying but also learning everything that she needs to know to advance her career into management. In many ways, her social media is a big part of her professional portfolio.
While caring about her previous employer, she has made sure to ease the transition. Since the beginning of 2021, she has been working both jobs and as one can imagine, this transition has been a lot. Finally, in July, she fully transferred to the new job. She has been able to respect both employers and make the transition easier for everybody.
TikTok helped launch her career into the next place, and has given her recognition and respect amongst the community. Her profile is uplifting, honest, safe and fun, depicting positive imagery of what it’s like to be a pilot.
Many of her followers talk about how inspiring she is, how fun it is to watch, that they are learning things they never knew about aviation and that it’s amazing to see a woman do such awesome things in a male dominated industry. She likes to have fun with it and posts funny content, being herself. Crosby says, ‘You can only do that when you are confident and good at your skill.’ People post literally everything on the internet but their content may be weak or they may be bad at what they are doing or put a spin on the reality of what it is that they do. For her, it’s just her, being her goofy self, doing what she is good at and what she loves, while sharing it with the world. Both of her jobs have been super supportive of her social media, because she is professional, she is a good pilot. She wouldn't have their backing if it portrayed a bad image of aviation.
A fellow pilot friend of her is who convinced her to start a TikTok account. She had never been much for social media, only had a Facebook page and didn’t actively engage with it. She started playing around, creating some content and one day she posted a video that had a trending sound that went along with it. She wasn’t even really into the video, in fact she was working on something that she liked and cared about, but just wanted to throw some type of content up. Within 24 hours, the video went viral and she had over 5 million views.
It was crazy, she couldn’t believe it. How fun she thought and she loved the remarks and comments that her videos were getting. It became a creative outlet for her in her travels. She started to notice the influence that she had on other people, how much she was inspiring others to want to fly.
Crosby has been loving getting all of the updates on her progress. The young girl has been supportive of Crosby since day one and she is happy that she can now return the favor. Unfortunately she has never met her, ironically she lives in Florida. Initially, her father reached out himself on TikTok. He is an immigrant and is working incredibly hard to provide.
Their story hit home and she managed to get their phone number and make the call. After speaking to both of them, she wanted to help. She told her that she would pay for flight school and the young girl could not stop crying, she was overcome with joy.
Crosby mailed all her aviation books to get her started and now, once a week she is flying. Not your typical 14 year old!
Moxxi asked her what it’s like to be a female in the industry. According to Women In Aviation International, women only makeup 6% of the total pilot population. Crosby doesn’t feel like her career is any harder or different being female. She thinks of herself as a pilot, and that’s it. She is doing what she needs to do for the safety of herself and others, being smart, giving it her best, getting the job done and that’s about it. She doesn’t even think about the fact that she is female, nor lets it get in her way.
She does recall some instances where being a female has presented it’s tribulations. Once she had a male First Officer, (which is the pilot that works under the captain, the second in command in the cockpit) who made her job very challenging. He questioned everything she did and would relentlessly ridicule her. She sat him down and told him not to undermine her in any way in her aircraft, if he had any problems or questions, to please ask her directly in the same approach he would with any other captain. Eventually she requested he not be in her aircraft. It’s been very little though, that she has had problems with male colleagues. She said that as many poor experiences with men she has had, she has had from women just as much.
She has been asked to be taken off of trips, it's been the hardest thing for her to overcome, how to convince other women that their partners safe with her, that they’re just working. She understands the concern, but there isn’t much she can do. It is a real burden and problem for her. She hasn’t been able to figure out how to fully overcome the situation with wives, because each situation is different. She has asked her male colleagues in the past if they would want her to meet their wives, she doesn’t know how to help, what the best direction is. Thankfully, they are honest with her. She gets taken off of certain flights, and it’s always the good ones, so if she didn’t know why, she would think that she was actually doing something wrong. It is always the fun trips, ones where you go to well sought after destinations, exotic and tropical places, ones that could be considered romantic in some way.
All in all, it’s mainly people outside her workforce that give any trouble and all her colleagues are great. The aviation community of women, her fellow female pilots are amazing and beyond supportive. The last company she worked at, Airsmart, had four female pilots. They all loved each other and pushed one another to further their careers. They became best friends. Crosby says in the next few months she is going to start hiring pilots and she hopes there are some strong, competitive female candidates.
Aviation has truly changed Crosby’s life. It has given her a purpose, fueled her passions and presented a whole new outlook on both her identity and goals for the future. It goes to show that once you find something that you are passionate about, you might as well stick with it, if it brings you joy, find out how to continue to do it and maybe you can make it a sustainable career. What started as checking off a box on a bucket list, became a whole new meaning in life. Her mothers passing gave her the courage to seek it. In a way she is living on in her mom's legacy and starting a new one of her own, creating a whole new twist in her life story. When she got her first pilot license all she wanted to do was call and tell her mother, she knew she would be so proud. It's been really hard on her but she knows life is short and you only live once so might as well make the best of it.
Next month she plans on going skydiving on her own, it’s something that absolutely terrifies her, which is exactly the reason that she is doing it. She gets a lot of messages online, people saying that they may not be planning on becoming a pilot but that she has inspired them to try something extreme and different, to take a leap in life. Hearing from people, really encourages herself to do better, it’s her fans that drive her. She knows for herself she needs to overcome the fear, that it’s going to be terrifying but because of that, the reward is so great, once she overcomes it, she will have courage to do even harder things. What could top that, what could be the next thing on her bucket list?
It’s safe to say that Crosby is a Fearless Female. The sky's not the limit for her, she is always testing her own personal boundaries and knows and understands what she is capable of. She doesn’t compare herself to others, she only ever levels up to her own self, to prove that she is able. Her endless drive and willingness to adapt and be open to change will continue to power her career, and her ambitions. It all started with taking the first initial leap, trusting her gut and travelling into the vast abyss of the american dream, an endless landscape of opportunity. It was waiting for her, the pearl in the oyster shell and in all it’s beauty, she is embracing it.
Q + A
Anything you tell yourself in hard times?
Do you have any favorite quotes?