A Nigerian teen has become the youngest black female to ever fly from one end of America to the other known in aviation parlance as cross country flight. Kimberly Anyadike whose parents are Nigerians broke the U.S. record and entered into the record books when she flew a single-engine Cessna cross-country from her hometown in California to Newport Virginia.
Anyadike also became the youngest African American female pilot to complete the journey, which took 13 days.Anyadike learned to fly at age 12 through the Compton-based Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, which offers aviation lessons in an after-school program for disadvantaged youths. It was their plane that she flew on her cross-country trip.
The brave teenager came up with the idea for the trip on her own.
The museum’s founder Robert Petgrave said: “I told her it was going to be a daunting task, but she just said, ‘Put it on. I got big shoulders.’”
In her company for the historic ride were an adult safety pilot and 87-year-old Levi Thornhill, one of the Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II.
“They left such a great legacy,” Anyadike said of the American all-black combat unit.
“I had big shoes to fill. All they wanted to do was to be patriots for this country. They were told no, that they were silly, that they didn’t have cognitive development to fly planes. They didn’t listen. They just did what they wanted to do.”
At least 50 Tuskeegee Airmen autographed the young pilot’s plane during her journey.
“I wanted to inspire other kids to really believe in themselves,” Anyadike said.