“Statistics consistently show that African-Americans represent only about 2% of pilots in both military and commercial aviation. Early exposure to aviation is a significant factor in professional success in aerospace careers.”
– Legacy Flight Academy
In the Black Travel sphere, the push to celebrate and encourage African Americans to travel and explore the world has always been a critical component. Yet, an even bigger drive has emerged, and groups from Sisters of the Skies (SOS) to The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals are now encouraging African American youth to not only catch flights but to pilot them. Among these organizations, the Legacy Flight Academy (LFA) is taking the helm to help minorities and underrepresented youth achieve success as aerospace and STEM professionals.
According to the Chicago Crusader, some 790,000 new pilots are needed in the global industry over the next 20 years. Of the estimated 160,000 pilots in the U.S., less than 2 percent are African American. LFA seeks to address this shortage in pilots and underrepresentation of minorities by creating aviation programs geared toward students ages 16-19. The purpose of these programs is to expose students to the training necessary to become Solo or FAA Private Pilots. LFA states that “In addition to the practical training received in aeronautics, students participate in field trips and listen to engaging guest speakers as they begin preparing for the future.” Although minority youth are the target of LFA’s program, participation is open to all students.
Drawing upon the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, LFA’s hands-on programs promote the notion that every participant and individual involved are the next generations to heralded the Airmen’s legacy. This connection the Tuskegee Airmen is furthered by the location of many of LFA’s programs – Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, home of the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The site is not only the student’s learning environment but the hangars at Moton Field, which have been repurposed to house artifacts related to the Tuskegee Airmen, also serves as a free and public museum dedicated to the history of the Airmen.
Currently, Legacy Flight Academy organizes three programs in which you can get your student involved – P.A.R. Motivations, The Double Victory Flight Program, and Eyes Above the Horizon.
The Double Victory Flight Program
- Character development through an intense study of the Tuskegee Airmen experience and practical leadership/teamwork activities.
- Flight training consisting of approximately 15 total simulator and actual single-engine flight time, including the opportunity to “solo” an aircraft.
- College and career education focusing on interaction with a variety of aerospace professionals and includes multiple field trips to local military bases and commercial aviation training centers
- Academic enrichment focused on science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) is also a part of the LFA experience through a partnership with the engineering departments at both Tuskegee and Auburn Universities.