Don’t be surprised when you start seeing more Black commercial pilots in the next few years. A new program in Los Angeles opens the door for more representation in an industry that lacks it.

A group of Black aviation professionals and aircraft mechanics launched Fly Compton Aeronautical Education Foundation Inc (FCAEF) in 2020 to train young pilots of color.

“Our mission is to introduce Black and Brown youth in and around the Compton, California, community to the aviation industry and the many opportunities that it can afford them,” while also contributing to the diversification of an industry that has long been exclusive to individuals of a higher economic status,” Co-Founder Demetrius Harris tells USA Today.

Harris is a contract pilot for a private owner.   It’s a career field he eventually dreamed about after seeing two Black pilots in the cockpit while boarding a commercial flight at a young age.

“There was something powerful about seeing two people that looked like me doing extraordinary things,” he adds.

Changing The Face of Aviation

According to organizers, people of color make up roughly 2.3% of all aircraft pilots and flight engineers.  The three contributing factors for a lack of representation include a lack of exposure, access to resources, and the high cost of flight training.

FCAEF changes that through the nine-month flight training program.  Students from ages 8 to 18 are trained with an FAA-approved curriculum, as USA Today reports.

The nine-month program costs $125 plus an additional $25 monthly fee after that.  Financial assistance and scholarships are available as well.

“Our overall goal is to get students to the point where they can fly the airplane solo,” Harris says. “By the time that happens, the students would have accumulated approximately 20 hours of logged flight time. We encourage all students to complete the written test for their private pilot license by the age of 16.” 

For more information on the program, click here.