It wouldn’t have taken a crystal ball to see how Jenny Hitzges’ life would pan out. Born in Dayton, Ohio – the birthplace of aviation – Jenny found herself obsessed with flying at an early age. With an uncle who served as a flight instructor, she spread her wings at the sweet age of five in his cherry red Citabria, a single engine prop plane that soared low and slow above the Ohio River Valley.
Just over a decade later, Jenny found herself at the controls of a small plane herself, racking up hours towards a license of her own. Her career path was set, however, the end goal wasn’t so clear. With several family members having served in the Air Force and Army, a calling to serve her country wasn’t far from her mind.
“I started at Endeavor in July of 2007, completed training and then left for my first long military leave for Air Force Pilot Training, Survival Schools, and C-130J training,” noted Hitzges. “Having flown for the Rhode Island Air National Guard for five years, I was ready for a different aircraft and mission.”
Between her duties at Endeavor and needing to meet her obligation to her country, Jenny took the controls of a unique fleet type – the LC-130H Hercules, a modified transport plane on skis that delivers equipment and resources to remote, frozen locations around the globe.
Her role as Captain on this modified C-130, and her squadron – the 109th Airlift Wing of the New York Air National Guard – serves as the only U.S.-based group that flies the LC-130H, operating between Polar Regions in Greenland and Antarctica. Jenny recently completed Barren Arctic Survival School on the Greenland Ice Cap, which prepared her for the worst case scenario of being stranded in an arctic environment.
“My new unit flies primarily peacetime missions, but I did do two combat deployments. I’ve experienced two completely different missions throughout my Air National Guard career,” Jenny added. “The two types of flying I do – for the Guard and for Endeavor – are completely different, but I believe they’ve made me a stronger, well-rounded, and more experienced aviator. Most of my emergencies and stressful situations have come on the military side, which has increased my confidence in both flight decks.
“Being a pilot at Endeavor has incited me to grow into a more clear, concise communicator by working with a variety of people, both crew and customers, and that’s what has shaped me to be the best pilot I can be. Finding that balance between the two is something I’m very grateful for.”
Hitzges says as Veteran’s Day approaches, she holds a special place in her heart for the day, as it allows her to reflect on her service to her country, while honoring her brothers and sisters in arms.
“Remember to thank those who have served and are serving,” Jenny said. “Treat our flag with the respect it deserves by displaying it correctly. When you hear the National Anthem, stand proudly with your hand over your heart and think about those that fought and continue to fight for our country’s freedom.
“I want to offer a thank you to Endeavor for all they do to make sure I’m prepared to re-enter service after my tours are complete,” Jenny concluded. “If I could give an award to Endeavor as a whole [for the work they do for return-to-work veterans], I would because of the support I’ve received from everyone at the company.”