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Celebrate the Experience, Representation and the Future of Black Pilots


Today, the world celebrates National Aviation Day but we wanted to celebrate men who look like us who literally go above and beyond for the greater good.



Sadly with big airlines becoming a primary way of commercial travel, only 2% of pilots are African American. Today, we're highlighting Black Pilots who have not only been flying the masses around the world but have unintentionally brought pride and inspiration to the many people they have encountered. We wanted to know what inspired them to explore and ultimately make a career out of aviation, understanding the role they feel they play in representation and how aviation can impact the future generation of Black pilots.


What inspired you to enter the world of aviation?


My love for aviation started at the young age of 8 years old. When flying from JFK to the island of Jamaica for a family trip, I had the pleasure of visiting the cockpit of an Airbus A300 operated by American Airlines. After pressing a few buttons and general conversation with the Captain, I was hooked after that.

What role do you feel you play when it comes to representation in the world of aviation?

As a first-generation aviator, airline pilot and current flight instructor, I feel that I play a big role in inspiring future aviators. I use social media and aviation events to the best of my ability to show people how fun Airline pilot life can be. In the airline setting, African Americans only make up 3% of the industry, I hope that through mentorship and representation we can change that over time.

How has aviation impacted and inspired future generations of pilots?


I always say “If you can see it, you can achieve it.” A lot of times, when interacting with peers my age, I’m the first Black airline pilot they’ve met. After explaining the overall scope of my job, many inquire about the process to become a pilot. Aviation is an amazing industry that allows you to see the world for free while being compensated nicely.



What inspired you to enter the world of aviation?


I was inspired to enter the aviation industry because I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and wanted to give my family the same ability to travel the world and see different countries. I also knew at a young age I didn’t want to work in an office so I found being a pilot would help me achieve both of those desires.


What role do you feel you play when it comes to representation in the world of aviation?


I play a huge role when it comes to representation in aviation. When I started, I was fortunate enough to see Black pilots at different events and throughout different organizations. I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t have those guys to look upon and ensure myself this dream can be a reality. As I continue in my career, I make sure that those behind me get the same opportunities and even better opportunities than what I have had because “it takes a village, to raise a kid.”


How has aviation impacted and inspired future generations of pilots?


I think aviation brings a certain level of reality to kids that have dreams that might seem bigger than life itself. To have a metal tube fly in the sky at 35,000 ft. is something truly remarkable, and to have a Black man at the front flying it is even more amazing. All dreams are just dreams until someone takes action and makes them a reality and aviation is a great avenue to prove that.


What inspired you to enter the world of aviation?


As a 7-year-old child, I remember traveling from Atlanta, Georgia to Denver, Colorado to spend my summer vacations with family. My cousin was a flight attendant and she would give me the gift of travel. During each trip, I was always excited about the upcoming flight. I was intrigued by the fact that birds could fly and airplanes could too. More importantly, airplanes could transport people to their destinations quickly and safely. At that very moment, I realized that aviation was my passion and I wanted to be a pilot. Education has always been key and my family always wanted me to stay focused on my dreams. To support my passion, my mother enrolled me in the ACE (Aviation Career Enrichment ) Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. In this program, I was exposed to the history of aviation, STEM concepts, navigation and weather, and careers in aviation. I also had the opportunity to meet mentors that looked like me and more importantly supported me through my journey. This was so inspiring; all these experiences ignited a flame in me that could not be extinguished. With the support of my family and mentors from ACE academy, I was the first male in my family to achieve my Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Science and Management with a full commercial pilot certification.

What role do you feel you play when it comes to representation in the world of aviation?

For many reasons, our culture hasn’t had the full support and exposure to all that aviation has to offer. With that, as I enter any airport in full uniform, I know that many passengers aren’t used to seeing a 23-year-old that looks like me headed to the cockpit of the airplane. Many assume I’ve earned my wings from military experience, when in fact, I am a college graduate. I represent an even smaller minority of African American pilots under the age of 25 and know that I must continue to leave those lasting positive impressions that break barriers and stereotypes of what we are capable of achieving. In 2019, I was elected President of the Organization of Black AreoSpace Professionals (OBAP). During my presidency, we volunteered and mentored at the Boys and Girls Club of Eastman, Georgia. Being a mentor to youth has proven to be a humbling and rewarding experience. I learned that the weight of leadership is not about power but more so, promoting growth and the development of youth in our community overall. These experiences and the influences from my family fueled my desire to change the lives of individuals in under-represent and underserved communities.

How has aviation impacted and inspired future generations of pilots?

With the industry being as vast as it is, I feel it’s imperative that we continue to expose young people to the limitless opportunities aviation provides. I’m currently mentoring my younger cousin who has shown a keen interest in the field from what he’s seen in me. I don’t take this responsibility lightly and daily encourage him to reach his potential. He has the benefit of walking in the shoes which I’ve blazed for him and it’s truly a humbling and meaningful experience to see the full circle manifestation of my 7-year-old dream now have positive influences on the next generation. Mentoring youth has been a very rewarding experience. My biggest responsibility as a pilot in the field is not to necessarily find future recruits, but also to be a visible relatable presence. I will continue to live by my motto: To Educate, Expose and Elevate…. And that is just what I will set out to do!





What inspired you to enter the world of aviation?


What inspired me to enter aviation was my mother. She was a flight attendant for 20 years so I was exposed to airplanes at a very young age. I remember my sister and I would go on trips with her as small children, and the pilots would let me come up to the flight deck and touch buttons, and I was immediately intrigued. The airline my mom worked for would eventually shut its doors for good, which would lead to my exposure to be less, but my interest remained the same. Decades later, I would become an airline pilot and my sister a flight attendant.


What role do you feel you play when it comes to representation in the world of aviation?


One of the ways I show representation is by volunteering in aviation organizations and attending career days in schools. I think it’s important that I reach out to communities and neighborhoods that raised me. One way of doing that is by being in groups such as the Organization of Black aerospace professionals, which partners with different airlines throughout the country. Allowing me as well as other pilots of color to mentor, teach, and expose youth to not just being a pilot, but all the aspects of aviation. There are so many opportunities in aviation that go beyond flying airplanes or being a flight attendant, that many people don’t think about.


How has aviation impacted and inspired future generations of pilots?


I think we have a lot more work to do when it comes to exposing the next generation of pilots. African-Americans make up less than 2% of airline pilots. We [Black people] still have the idea that we can’t do it. For others being an airline pilot is a lifelong dream, but can be deferred with the financial cost of learning to become one. The future generation is very smart and realizes that there are other careers that cost less to obtain, and pay more directly after graduating college. As rewarding as flying can be personally and financially, I always stress to both youth and young adults that you must have a passion for flying first or the risk won’t be worth the reward.




What inspired you to enter the world of aviation?


Well, it wasn’t what inspired me, but more who inspired me to enter the world of aviation. My grandfather had a passion for aviation and flight. He always mentioned his dream was to fly in the US military. Unfortunately, he grew up during a time when Black people were not allowed to fly and become pilots. I could only imagine how devastating that was for him. Despite having a college degree and being highly educated, his race prevented him from attaining that dream.

I will always respect my grandfather because he still joined the US military. He was very proud to serve. I was always fascinated with his stories about watching planes roaring into the sky and the time he got to ride in a military plane because he established a good friendship with a pilot. He would always smile when he told me that story. Aviation had an impact on my grandfather’s life. It was a privilege that we shared that common passion.


What role do you feel you play when it comes to representation in the world of aviation?


Representation is very important. Seeing someone you can relate to serves as a motivator and an inspiration. In many cases, that’s the only thing needed to ignite someone's interest. I fear others may decide not to get involved in aviation due to the lack of representation.

I have had many mentors guide and help me get to where I am now. I feel I have the same responsibility to expose and show others the positive impact aviation has had on my life. My hope is that people will desire the same experience and want to get involved.


How has aviation impacted and inspired future generations of pilots?


Aviation has many avenues to inspire future aviators through airshows, social media, and aviation-related organizations. All these avenues share a common theme, they all involve people. It’s not aviation making an impact and inspiring. The aviation community and the people are the ones who inspire others through mentoring and exposure.


As more of us get involved, the more we can do to share our passion and love for aviation, and be a testament that aviation is truly for anyone.


Main Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

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