Passion for the Sky: A Female Instructor’s Unique Flight Path to Air Interdiction
Air Interdiction Agent (AIA) Presley Rose recalled her first encounter with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations (AMO) at a job she had as a flight instructor. After seeing an AMO helicopter land, she introduced herself to the AIAs. The agents gladly answered her questions on becoming an AMO pilot and in two minutes she was hooked. “When someone is passionate about something it compels you to listen and want to know why.”
Rose quickly learned that as a pilot with AMO she could combine aviation and law enforcement – something that she also wanted to pursue. Additionally, AMO would afford her the ability to pay off the $100,000 debt she incurred by her flight training. The agents told her the pay and benefits were great and that they loved their jobs as well as the tight knit family their co-workers and teammates became.
Rose found a recruiter via the Facebook group, Helicopter Pilot Network, who was her direct link to the hiring process. Due to AMO’s high demand for AIAs at the time, she started the hiring process in January 2019 and attended the Air and Marine Basic Training Program a few months later in May.
She recounts her time at basic training as amazing saying “it molded me into this job.” Rose also found it to be a huge wake-up call. Before she arrived, she said, “I thought I would be a pilot that gets to carry a gun, not a federal law enforcement agent that gets to fly. The instructors at basic training did a really great job of preparing us for the law enforcement side.”
Rose was the only female in her class, but says her classmates were phenomenal. “They scooped me up under their wings like I was their little sister. I can’t praise them enough for how amazing they were.”
Daily, Rose flies the A-Star helicopter or the AS350. She says, “I love the adrenaline we get every day when we take off. Every day is different, which is another reason why I love this job. Our predominant mission is to secure the southern border; however, we also get the opportunity to work with other government agencies."
Her proudest moment as an agent was when she helped respond to a 911 call. “We had a subject that had been left behind by his coyote/guide. The gentleman was severely dehydrated. It was the middle of the summer and daily temperatures were in excess of 100 degrees. We were able to locate him and deliver water. We then led Border Patrol agents to his location to assist him.”
Rose urges those interested in becoming a pilot with AMO to not get discouraged. “Sometimes we face obstacles that are frustrating and seem impossible. If you want it bad enough, you can reach any goal you set your mind to.”
Though she is still relatively new to the agency, Rose has already taken the initiative to help AMO recruit the next generation of female pilots. As for her own flight path, Rose has set her sights on becoming dual rated so she can also fly fixed wing aircraft.