This nonprofit takes minority kids aloft to encourage aviation careers
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This February, TPG has been recognizing African-Americans in the aviation industry for Black History Month. Today, we’re spotlighting the work of Fly For The Culture, a nonprofit based in Charlotte, North Carolina that “focuses on promoting diversity within the aviation industry.”
Fly For The Culture’s founder, Courtland Savage, hopes to improve diversity in aviation by planting the seed early.
“What we do is take kids on introductory flights. Kids who have never even stepped foot on an airfield,” Courtland told The Root in November.
“Most minority kids don’t even know it’s possible nor have they seen pilots that look like them in airplanes, so we show them by putting them in a plane with a black pilot and taking them flying for their first time ever.”
Now based in Raleigh, N.C., Savage is a commercial pilot who flies Delta and United regional jets.
Fly For The Culture also takes young people on tours of airport facilities, aircraft manufacturers and aviation maintenance facilities. In addition, it offers a course in Student Pilot Fundamentals, teaching concepts like aerodynamics, checklist philosophy and the flight training process.
A quick look at the numbers shows the organization is sorely needed.
According to 2019 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 94% of pilots and flight engineers are white. Fewer than three percent are black or African-American, Hispanic pilots comprise just two percent of the industry and just 7.5% are women.
A career in aviation can happen at any time. Jerome Stanislaus, who works with Fly for The Culture to provide flight lessons to minority children, decided to become a pilot after leaving a Sunday church service. He previously had a career with the United States Marines and held a degree in airport management, but wanted more.
“Out of nowhere, my heart just got really filled with wanting to share aviation with others,” he told CNN in an interview last year. After his service, Stanislaus said, he signed up for flight lessons. Now as a licensed pilot, he takes kids and young adults of color on flying lessons.
Fly For The Culture arranges for students to to aloft on general aviation flights with licensed pilots in a Cessna 172 or similar aircraft, according to the website. For students interested in a career in aviation, the organization provides mentorship and support.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images
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