From Corporate Pilot to Flying Warbirds, Ashley Shelton Has the “Best Job in the World”

Photo above – Ashley Shelton – “wing walking has provided the greatest thrill.”  Ashley is on the wing of a 1943 Boeing Super Stearman (PT-17), owned by Ashley and her husband.

Whether it’s flying corporate jets or warbirds, Ashley Shelton says she has the best job in the world. The young aviatrix has immersed herself in aviation, flying a variety of aircraft and on top of that, for those of you who attend air shows, you might even get the chance to see her performing as a wing walker.

Ashley Shelton

“It’s hard to describe the exact feeling of flying an airplane or wing walking, for that matter,” says Ashley. “The best way to describe the feeling is that of pure thrill and excitement.” Ashley says that being the sole pilot on board can be even more rewarding. “Recognizing that all the hard work and training has paid off and knowing you have the best job in the world is quite satisfying.”

Along with her husband, Ashley is a warbird enthusiast, with a collection of seven airplanes kept at their home, including a 1944 Grumman FM-2 Wildcat. In 2019, she became a member of the Commemorative Air Force and was selected to be a co-pilot on the 1944 North American B-25 “Mitchell” bomber – “Devil Dog”. Since then, she has accrued more than 150 flight hours in the B-25 and joined the world’s only all-female B-25 Mitchell crew.

Ashley Shelton with an Airshare Phenom 300.

Since 2022, Ashley has been flying the Phenom 300 as a pilot for Airshare, where she is working toward upgrading to captain. Airshare pilots offer best-in-class luxury and safety for their customers throughout the company’s suite of private aviation services, including its fractional ownership program, which includes a fleet of Phenom 300 and Challenger 3500 aircraft.

Ashley’s interest in aviation began at a very early age. “My dad would take me to hobby shops and let me pick out model airplanes for us to build together,” said Ashley. “We even flew some of the gliders we built.” Ashley and her father did that for many years. Her grandfather, a Navy veteran, also took her to aviation museums and local airports to watch airplanes.

“My interest grew even stronger as I got older,” said Ashley. “I ended up joining the Air Force to be an air traffic controller. A minor injury in basic training prevented that from happening, so I pursued a degree in air traffic control and graduated with an associate degree in 2012.”

For other young women interested in a career in aviation, Ashley’s advice is “to go after your dreams with passion and determination.” If they’re interested in becoming a pilot, Ashley’s suggestion is to research local flying clubs or organizations promoting women in aviation (Women in Aviation International, The Ninety-Nines, EAA Young Eagles, Civil Air Patrol). “Those groups are a great way to make long lasting connections and a way to apply for flight training scholarships.” If not interested in becoming a pilot, Ashely encourages girls and young women to take classes in school that will prepare them for a technical job in the aviation industry. “Or even pursuing internships at local airports is a great way to get their foot in the door,” added Ashley. There are so many opportunities in this field that need more women in the industry.”

Airshare, a private aviation company offering aircraft management, fractional ownership, EMBARK Jet Cards and charter services, is shining a spotlight on their incredible female teammates this month. The company believes flying private should be safe, simple and designed specifically to your needs.

“What fires me up each day at Airshare is not really knowing where I’ll end up flying during the days I’m on duty,” says Ashley. “It brings a great sense of adventure to be able to fly into places even the airlines don’t fly into… such as small uncontrolled airports in some of the most beautiful places in the country. I love that feeling!”

For Ashley, it’s hard to have a favorite airplane as each brings a different type of experience. “I love flying my J-3 Cub, but I also love flying my North American AT-6 Texan. The AT-6 is the most challenging of all the airplanes I’ve flown thus far. There’s a reason they call it “the pilot maker”. But overall, I really enjoy flying the North American B-25 bomber,” said Ashley. “It’s not just about flying a heavy WW2 bomber, it’s about the camaraderie of flying with a great crew that makes it the most special.”

Long term, one goal for Ashley is to fly wide body aircraft on international flights to Europe and Asia. “The excitement that would bring appeals to my sense of adventure and love for travel.” However, if she had to narrow down a choice to one aircraft that she hasn’t had the opportunity to fly yet, it would be the Boeing B-29 Super Fortress (WW2 bomber). “There are only two B-29s flying in the world currently and I would love to one day get that opportunity.”

Though at home in the cockpit, Ashley loves wing walking and that has provided her the greatest thrill of all her experiences in, or outside an airplane. “You have the best seat in the house, especially at air shows.”