Small woman equipped with big dreams

Florida Memorial University junior named Air Force RPA pilot

Ashley Montgomery | 3/13/2014, 9 a.m.
Shanisse Lanoue, petite in stature — standing at just five feet — is a testament that you can do anything ...
Shanisse Lanoue

Shanisse Lanoue, petite in stature — standing at just five feet — is a testament that you can do anything when you put your all in to it. Unlike her classmates, the 20-year-old student has been a licensed pilot since 2012. Lanoue, a junior majoring in Aeronautical Science at Florida Memorial University (FMU).

Lanoue is the eldest child of four and a native of Fort Lauderdale. A first generation American — her mother, South African and father, Haitian-Dominican, Lanoue wanted to become a traditional pilot however, she does not meet the Air Force’s height requirements.

It was love at first sight for Lanoue when it came to flying. When Lanoue was just six years old on her way to South Africa for the first time, she says that she was captivated by the plane.

"I knew that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of her life," Lanoue said.

“I didn’t know how I was going to do it,” Lanoue said. With ambition and determination in tow, it has become a vivid reality. “My brother is about to be 18, he’s really excited for me” Lanoue says. “Of course my parents are really proud of me but they are really scared at the same time.”

Lanoue assured her parents that she would be safe considering that her job is reminiscent to using a game console, like Xbox or Playstation.

“I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “I hate video games; I’m not really good at them but I think this is going to be very interesting to learn.”

Lanoue likes to think that she is really lucky because all of her flight education is free and she flies out of Endeavor Flight Training which is based in the Opa-locka Airport.

According to their website, Endeavor Flight Training is a specially selected flight school that guarantees exceptional and professional flight training.

“The cool part of my job is that I’m going to be required to have top security clearance — that’e the highest level of security in the Air Force,” Lanoue said. “Im also looking forward to learning about my missions.”

Small, mighty and fierce

Captain Arnold Tolbert, one of Lanoue’s aviation professors can relate to his students in many ways. Tolbert once served in the United States Air Force where he flew the KC 135 and was an instructor pilot in the T-37. Later on, he was hired by American Airlines in 1987 and earned the rank of captain in 2000.

“I came to speak at FMU and I said that this is a place where, once I retired, I wanted to teach. . . just so happens there was a position open in the Summer of 2008,” Tolbert said.

“Shanisse is a very inquisitive young lady, she wants to make sure that she has all of the facts before she does something — it’s a challenge for me but I love it,” Tolbert said.

Tolbert is proud of Lanoue and wishes her well in all of her future endeavors.