Aqua Katina Heavener, aka PilotAqua, is an up-and-coming recording artist, former model, entrepreneur, philanthropist, pilot, and cancer survivor. A young woman who is clearly a force to be reckoned with, PilotAqua is living proof that having heart, hope, and family in the face of adversity is what matters most of all. Her rather unique tale will be sure to ignite the power of positivity in all of us.
Despite an unstable and unfortunate upbringing rife with unimaginable and deplorable circumstances, as well as aging out of foster care in Manassas, Virginia, PilotAqua would find a way westward to TinselTown by working as a professional model, while staying at a women’s shelter until she was able to afford her own apartment. And, this was just the beginning for this unlikely success story.
PilotAqua, now 26, graduated in 2013 from Stonewall Jackson High School and is currently working on attaining her veterinarian technician license with a concentration on wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. The sky seems to be the limit for this goal-digging GoGirl! Having worked as a fashion model while obtaining her undergrad degree, the overachieving PilotAqua is currently in the midst of launching her own line of aviation attire and independently runs a non-profit aptly entitled Aqua Confident, a unique organization that instructs young, underprivileged girls how to be a mermaid for fashion shoots, birthdays bashes, and other fun events.
A frequent red-carpet guest and hired awards seat filler, PilotAqua has graced the crimson covering countless times, including the Emmy and MTV Awards shows, respectively, and the premiere of the cult thriller Stranger Things 3. But, beneath the beautiful visage, gleaming grin, beaming persona, and the glitz and glamour of aspiring stardom, lies a young woman privately and fearlessly fighting battles beyond her control. Diagnosed with a number of health challenges a few years back, including a congenital vascular condition known as Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome and a malformation of her small intestine, which prevents adequate and healthy blood flow to the majority of her vital organs, PilotAqua has resolved to not let her health challenges overcome her right to thrive. A competitive equestrian, PilotAqua volunteers at the Rancho Verde Riding Club where she teaches younger girls to ride in exchange for horse show competition preparation. Additionally, she is in remission after battling colon cancer. “Currently, I plan to engage in private piloting for fun under a restrictive license. I’m a striving private pilot with a notable rising in the female aviation community, with restrictions due to my health.
My goal is to have my own ranch and flying rescue business one day in the future,” PilotAqua tells GoGirl Worldwide Magazine. Still, quite an ambitious endeavor for any young man or woman, irrespective of medical obstacles. Her recently released song “Kiss the Night Sky” will be featured on her upcoming album in 2021. And, GoGirl readers can stay tuned for the official GoGirl theme song, which PilotAqua personally wrote in collaboration with our Founder and CEO, Jennifer Murphy. MTV Awards and the iHeartRadio music festival featured PilotAqua as a top influencer on their social media billboard.
But, above chasing and grabbing hold of her wildest dreams in aviation and soaring the sunny (and starry skies), PilotAqua is on another quest – one a lot closer to her heart. She is fighting against the needless and cruel practice of sibling separation within the social structure. “We could have seen each other growing up,” she recounts. “I had restraining orders put on certain family members, but siblings should be the exception. It has negatively affected all our lives for the time we lost and can never get back.” Due to the irresponsible actions of her parents, PilotAqua asserts she and her siblings were the ones who ultimately paid the painfully unfair price. She hopes the courts will soon eradicate these emotionally destructive laws that aspire to do more harm than good.
A Patient with a Penchant for…Posting?
As if her resume of impressive accomplishments couldn’t possibly get any longer, PilotAqua can add another item to that already extensive list. Late last year, she became a deserving recipient of the lauded Social Media Patient Experience Project at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for her adept social media posting prowess. Founded in 2017, the forward-thinking project delivers personalized gifts to randomly selected patients who “tag” Cedars-Sinai in their social posts across the biggest platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. PilotAqua tells Cedar-Sinai’s Bridge newsletter, “They’re seeing who I am as a person…It makes me feel like when I go home, I still have support.” Like most social media savvy millennials, PilotAqua admits she’s quite the ardent poster across her social channels. “Social media provides a unique opportunity to interact with our patients and community outside a clinical setting,” comments Carrie Yutzy, associate director of Digital Strategy at Cedars-Sinai. “When a patient tags us in a post, they’re including us in their experience and giving us a chance to see things from their perspective.”
Once the recipients have been chosen, a team of Cedar-Sinai volunteers distribute the gifts, replete with a custom-crafted greeting card. PilotAqua is one of more than 40 patients to have received a personalized gift as part of this on-going initiative. All the gifts are provided by volunteer-run charity Helping Hand Gift Shop and the entirety of the proceeds go to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars.
PilotAqua, we are immeasurably enamored with you and your inspiring story of heart, hope, and resilience, including your unwavering commitment to your life goals and the restitution and reform of harmful societal constructs. We trust that your personal journey touches each and every GoGirl who is currently facing inconceivable challenges, adversity, and the toughest of times. You got this, GoGirl!
Since the writing of this article, PilotAqua received the great news that her cancer is in remission as she continues on her personal journey crushing her goals. Her final bout of chemotherapy has been scheduled for April 1st and we’re sending lots of pink-powered prayers her way! Be sure to visit PilotAqua on Instagram @PilotAqua or @AquaHeavener to learn more about this indomitable entrepreneur and how she’s defying all the odds.