Organizations Diversifying The Aviation Industry
As part of CHI Aerospace’s celebration of Black History Month, we explored the messages in an upbeat, yet thought-provoking, video singer and songwriter, Usher, posted of a general aviation flight he took with some of his friends and nephew. In text overlay over footage of loops and vertical takeoffs, Usher writes of the first group of African American military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the shocking statistic that “today, only 2% of pilots in the world are Black, and less than 1% are Black women”.
To visit Usher's TikTok and view the video for yourself, click here.
These statistics brought up by Usher bring about important questions for the aviation community: what is the root of these racial disparities and what is being done to create a more culturally diverse and inclusive environment?
Here are a few organizations currently challenging the adversities faced by black community members to enter the aviation industry and the approaches they are taking to do so.
FLY FOR THE CULTURE
Fly For The Culture is a not-for-profit organization that aims to “promote and increase diversity within the aviation industry through exposure, outreach, improved access, and the elimination of barriers to equal opportunity”. They do this by providing introductory flights to children, teens, and young adults who otherwise wouldn’t have access.
To answer the question “what is the root of these racial disparities?”, one member of Fly For The Culture, Jerome Stanislaus, is quoted on CNN as speaking about his own interest in aviation with, “I never believed that I would ever actually become a pilot. I did not really believe it was possible- even though I had so much support from my family. I told myself I couldn’t do it because I have never seen a black pilot- not one time. I didn’t think that black kids actually grew up to be pilots. I thought it was just rich white kids”. This is why inclusion and exposure are so important to Stanislaus and founder, Courtland Savage, a veteran US Navy aviator. They want to show the African-American community that there are attainable paths to jobs in the aviation industry.
To learn more about Fly For The Culture, or to donate to their cause, visit their website at https://flyfortheculture.org. You can also visit or follow their instagram account, @flyfortheculture.
ORGANIZATION OF BLACK AEROSPACE PROFESSIONALS
For the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), their promotional video says it all... “Sometimes it’s hard to follow a path that seems uncharted, to chase a dream that just seems out of reach, or to reach the mountaintop of success and look around and wonder, ‘Am I alone amongst my peers?’. Have you ever wondered, ‘Is there anybody who has walked my path?’. We have. We are the place where passion makes purpose, where preparation meets opportunity, where legacies are cemented and celebrated, and new ones created. We are the ones who offer narratives to old stereotypes, new solutions to old problems, new inspiration to worn hope, new opportunities to those without access, preparation for those without resource. We uplift our communities and change the lives of our youth and we pay it forward through aerospace. We are the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.”
To view the inspiring video yourself, click here.
Through Project Aerospace, a series of scholarships, mentoring, training, and youth-focused education programs, the OBAP promotes diversification in all aviation and aerospace related careers. To put a number to OBAP’s success in their efforts, the organization has awarded $5.8 million dollars to over 470 diverse recipients nationwide.
To explore OBAP’s website and explore how you can contribute to their efforts as a donor or as a volunteer, visit https://obap.org/#obapcallouts.
RED TAIL SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION
At the conclusion of Usher’s video, he writes of how the Tuskegee Airmen continue their legacy of promoting diversity in aviation through a scholarship opportunity for the Black community called the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation (RTSF).
The Red Tail Scholarship Foundation’s vision is to “find qualified, motivated students who demonstrate all of the values that the original Tuskegee Airman embodied and give them the tools necessary to succeed in the field”.
With opportunities to donate to, or become a mentor for, this highly competitive program, visit the Red Tail Scholarship Foundation website at https://redtailscholarshipfoundation.org/about/ or their Instagram @redtailscholarship.
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We strongly encourage you to support these organizations however you are able; through the act of volunteering, donating, or simply spreading the message. The diversification of the aviation industry starts with each and every one of us.