SACRAMENTO, Calif. — You can look to the horizon or check your local newscast for the weather, but now when you check the sky, you might see your local meteorologist flying high.
U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Jessica Burch, an aviation officer and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot with the California National Guard, also works as a weekday broadcast meteorologist for CBS KPIX channel 5 news in San Francisco.
Burch began her aviation journey at 15 years old and now has over a decade of flight experience. Burch took lessons to obtain a private pilot license throughout high school, intending to fly for the airlines.
After realizing the military could help pay for college, she joined the school’s Reserve Officer Training Corps, intending to become an aviation officer.
Burch was particularly interested in medevac operations, where pilots fly injured patients to safety.
“The best day of my life was finding out that the Army National Guard was an option, which allowed me to become a medevac pilot,” she said. “Because the National Guard is a part-time service component, I could still pursue my other career passion as a broadcast meteorologist.”
Burch commissioned into the Army after graduating from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. She then got picked up at an ABC station in Redding, California.
She took a year off from her broadcast job to go to flight school and become a pilot in the Cal Guard. After returning from flight school, she finished her contract in Redding and was hired at CBS in the Bay Area.
“This is a fantastic position to be hired onto so early in my career, so now I fly part time and still do the news, which are the two most amazing careers I can imagine having,” Burch said.
Burch has strong convictions about her choice to serve and the mission.
“Being a part of an aviation medevac unit, I feel the people I work with genuinely care about the mission set, and that just makes me a passionate pilot here in the Army National Guard.”