Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of First Officer Diana Lugemwa
Black Pilots Blazing The Trail: First Officer Diana Lugemwa
As we mentioned last week, less than 1% of pilots in the aviation industry are Black women. We are highlighting a few of those women and their accomplishments thus far.
We spoke with First Officer Diana Lugemwa about her journey into the field and what it means to be a trailblazer.
Journey into aviation
Diana Lugemwa was raised by her single mother. As a child, she had the opportunity to fly abroad to visit family in her home country of Uganda in East Africa.
Having to fly as an unaccompanied minor at times, she was given the chance to see the cockpit. Seeing all of the buttons, really wow’d her.
While most of her family went into professions like medicine or law, Diana had other plans for her life. She was interested in flying planes, but she didn’t know very many people in the aviation world. Diana spent a lot of her younger years around planes since her family lived near an Airforce base.
Once she transitioned to high school, her guidance counselor informed her of several aviation programs. Diana reached out to many of them, but due to their own bad experiences, they turned her away from exploring the field more. Also, many were skeptical of her being successful due to her height. She’s only 4 foot 11.
However, this didn’t stop her from going after what she wanted. She went on to attend Middle Tennessee State University where she majored in Aviation and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Initially, she didn’t have the funds to attend flight school, but somehow things worked out exactly how they needed. She was able to take her first solo flight in July 2009 and earned her private license in November of that same year.
“I was flying as many hours as I could to make it to the next step,” Diana told Travel Noire. “I was flying up to 100 hours per month just to try to get my commercial license.”
Diana is now based in Miami, Florida and has been with for American Airlines since May 2018. She has been flying for just over 10 years total.
Thoughts on being a trailblazer
“It’s a privilege and humbling. It’s also motivation to spread the word that doing this is possible. I want to let other Black women know that they can too. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean you can’t be it.”
Diana encourages anyone looking to get into the career field to follow their dreams. But, also know that your path may not look like everyone else’s. Let that be your motivation.
What she’s up to these days
Diana spends time speaking at a STEM camp every year at Penn State- York. She understands the need for more women of color to encourage young Black girls to venture into Science and Tech.
“This is typically a male-dominated world. Technology is so important these days. When you add in more women and minorities, it makes the field better. STEM can be fun, there is science and math in everything!’