Waitress to Wings: The story of SrA Tylo Hanie

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Amanda Jett
  • 436th Airlift Wing

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – When you are from a small town it’s normal to have big dreams. To long for adventure and see the world firsthand for yourself. For one United States Airman, the small town of Rockwall, Texas, was just the launching pad for her ambitions.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tylo Hanie, 9th Airlift Squadron flight engineer instructor, has always wanted to fly. She always wanted to do something with airplanes and through her drive, passion and personality she was able to become the youngest female flight engineer instructor in Dover AFB history.

“Since I was five years old I wanted to fly,” said Hanie. “I have family members that were pilots in the Marine Corps, so from a young age I was highly encouraged to go into aviation.”

After graduating high school, Hanie went to college but faced the daunting prospect of tuition and the burden of student loans.

“College was super expensive and I didn’t want to go into any debt, so I began waitressing full time,” she said. “I tried going to school at the same time and after half a semester, I realized it was not for me.”

In 2020, Hanie enlisted into the U.S. Air Force and began her journey from waitress to wings, trading in her apron to become a C-5M Super Galaxy flight engineer.

Despite lacking the traditional maintenance background, like many of her counterparts, Hanie's drive and personality set her apart.

“She’s a rockstar, just phenomenal,” said Master Sgt. Wesley Hulick, 9th AS flight engineer evaluator. “I was the one who gave her her first evaluation and it was the best initial quality evaluation I'd ever given. Her technical expertise was there and she is calm under pressure, which is a big part of our job.”

One defining moment as an engineer for Hanie came during the largest iteration of the Air Mobility Command exercise, Mobility Guardian 2023. She was part of two fully-augmented crews that conducted a 35-hour duty day, flying a C-5 from Hawaii to Australia and back, during a Maximum Sustained Tempo operation.

It wasn’t long after MG23 that Hulick approached Hanie about being a flight engineer instructor.

“She’s an ‘off the street’ flight engineer, meaning she doesn’t come from a maintenance background, she’s also young, only 22 years old,” said Hulick. “And yet, she has the personality for this: approachable, humble and has drive and motivation. It’s these attributes that made it an easy choice to send her to instructor school.”

Hanie went to instructor school in the fall of 2023 with a little more than 500 flying hours, half the normal amount of attendees.

“It was kind of nerve-racking, I already didn't have the experience that the older guys did, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” she said.

Hanie is now soaring to new heights as the youngest female flight engineer instructor in Dover AFB history. It goes to show how a humble beginning as a waitress in a small town, with unwavering ambition and drive, can lead to attaining big dreams.

“I wouldn't have believed five years ago that I would be in the position that I am now,” Hanie said. “If you put in the work and set your mind to it, you can truly do anything.”