There is no age limit to achieving your dreams! No matter how big or small, you are the master of your destiny! When it comes to changing the face of pilots, 17-year-old high school student Christopher Ballinger is doing that. He is among the youngest Black pilots in the country, thanks to an Air Force JROTC Flight Academy Program.
According to Fox 5, Chris confirmed he’s licensed to fly any single-engine land plane, which is the first step in becoming a pilot. Christopher participated in an eight-week Flight Academy program at Walla Walla University in Washington State. According to the university’s website, they offer three aviation degree options. In the program, students will learn how to fly, operate safely, and interact in the world of professional aviation.
In addition, students will be at the controls and learn firsthand the challenges and rewards of operating aircraft. Christopher, a rising senior at Sidwell Friends School, has a bright future. The teen plans to apply to the Air Force Academy after graduation. He offered some advice for younger students interested in following in his footsteps, saying to keep an open mind about all opportunities that present themselves!
Black people in the airline industry have been all over the news lately. As we previously reported, an American Airlines flight recently made history while celebrating the 100th anniversary of Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license. For the first time in the airline carrier’s 96-year existence, everyone involved, from the ramp to the gate, the cockpit, and the cabin, were all Black women!
The great-niece of Bessie Coleman, Gigi Coleman, spoke about her aunt’s legacy explaining, “My great-aunt received her license two years before Amelia Earhart. She wasn’t in the history books. No one knew about her.”