I read a very good article in yesterday’s Washington Post about seventeen year old Colin Banks. A senior at South County High School in Fairfax County, VA, Colin has his eyes set on attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and he wants to become a fighter pilot.
A black teen longs for the wild blue yonder
Fairfax high school senior has his heart set on a very exclusive club: African American fighter pilots
By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 20, 2009
Colin Banks can talk to you about World War I and World War II planes until you’re not interested anymore. He likes to TiVo aerial dogfights on the History Channel. The 17-year-old can’t drive the distance from Maryland to Richmond by himself, but he’s flown it.
As a young black man with a passion for flying, Colin is an anomaly. The teen, a senior at South County Secondary School in Fairfax County, has his sights on the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and dreams of becoming a fighter pilot.
At a time when blacks have reached dazzling heights — U.S. president, chief executives of giant companies, even the nation’s top astronaut is a black man — you won’t find many in the cockpit of a fighter jet. The cost of aviation lessons, the required educational training and the lack of role models all contribute to the scarcity.
Of the 14,130 Air Force pilots, 270 — or 1.9 percent — identified themselves as black, the Air Force Personnel Center reported this year. The percentage is similar for commercial pilots, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Colin has 43 hours of flying time and is weeks away from obtaining a private pilot’s license. The journey has taken more than a year. It has involved many trips back and forth to the airfield for lessons. It has meant sacrificing weekends of lounging and video games — and varsity basketball.
“Young black men aren’t limited to basketball or being a rapper,” Colin said. “Basketball is a game. Flying is a career choice. It’s something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
That last paragraph needs to be posted in schools all over the country.
Good luck young man in reaching your dreams.
You can check out the entire article here at the Washington Post.com.