Black excellence

Aged 15, Kimberly Anyadike became the youngest African American to fly across the United States

BLACK HISTORY: Kimberly Ad

BLACK HISTORY: Kimberly Anyadike

MEET KIMBERLY Anyadike, the youngest African American to fly across the United States, aged 15.

She piloted a single-engine, four-seater Cessna 172 from Compton, California, to Newport News, Virginia, and back, making scheduled stops in a dozen cities along the way in 2009.

Kimberly, who flew with a safety pilot, as well as a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, is believed to be the youngest African-American, and possibly the youngest person of any race, to complete such a feat, said Robin Petgrave, founder and executive director of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton.

“Honestly, I didn’t realise how much work it would be, or something that required a lot of focus and energy and dedication to do, I guess because I started when I was so young,” she said of the 13-day, 6,000-mile journey. “I’m scared of heights, but being in the cockpit is an amazing experience.”

Kimberly, whose father is Nigerian, paid for her flight lessons by working many odd jobs around the Compton Airport.

Now, she is majoring in physiological science and minoring in African-American studies and Spanish.

She’s also an aspiring cardiovascular surgeon, a registered emergency medical technician, a member of the Flying Samaritans at UCLA, which brings volunteer medical care to Tijuana, Mexico, and a mentor to at-risk youth in South Los Angeles, near where she grew up in Inglewood.

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