For Wyoming Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lauren Gurney, every day is about pursuing her passions.
One is a passion for flying UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for the Wyoming Army National Guard’s G Company, 2nd Battalion, 211 Aviation Regiment. The other is running a bakery in Jackson, Wyoming.
“Lauren is especially inspiring because she has two unique skill sets and she’s incredible at both of them, and the two skill sets have nothing to do with the other,” said Lyndsey Johnson, Gurney’s bakery business partner. “She really is a symbol of the ultimate woman who can be whatever she wants.”
It was while working part time jobs in Denver and Albuquerque as a teenager that Gurney discovered her love for baking and all things chocolate. “I just loved the work and aroma of those bakeries” she said.
While attending college in New Mexico, Gurney said she discovered her love for aviation. “After my first flight in a Black Hawk there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do more than to fly,” she said.
Now as the only female pilot with the Wyoming National Guard, Gurney’s focus is to continue to train and be the best possible one she can be.
“There’s no delineation between being a female pilot and being a good pilot,” she said. “That’s my job here, to be a good pilot.”
Gurney has more than 800 flight hours in helicopters and was recently selected by her unit to attend a very demanding eight-week maintenance test pilot course.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Derek Fisbeck, also a test pilot with the Wyoming National Guard, can attest to Gurney’s ability. “I actually got some feedback when she went to the maintenance test pilot course, which is a very demanding course, saying she was one of the top students in her class.”
When Gurney trades her flight suit for an apron, she enlists a whole other skill set and passion.
“That’s the other side of my brain. I’m a master chocolatier and a baker,” she said, standing amid the massive ovens and mixers in her Jackson kitchen where she makes more than 900 cookies on some days.
Gurney, along with Johnson, runs the bakery, baking for her family’s restaurants and grocery store in Jackson.
“I have the creative side of me that does the baking and creating and everything with chocolate and I have the very technical side of my life as a maintenance test pilot on the Black Hawk,” said Gurney.
Johnson said Gurney’s two passions gives her business partner a unique edge. “I love telling people that she’s a helicopter pilot because she’s tough. I mean she’s just this powerhouse in the kitchen but then you just imagine her being this powerhouse flying through the air, like saving people’s lives and being so strong. It’s a very impressive and empowering thing” she said.
Gurney said she hopes she never has to choose one passion over the other, but if she was forced to choose, flying would win. ”I’m the happiest when I’m flying and when I’m with my flight crew doing our job” she said.