pilot to set world flight records-Jonathan Strickland
16]COMPTON,California,US--Sixteen-year-old Jonathan Strickland
became the youngest black pilot to solo six airplanes and
one helicopter in the same day, at Compton Woodley Airport
Jonathan Strickland, a Los Angeles resident,
has been flying since he was 12. During a trip from Compton
to Canada at age 14, he became the youngest black pilot to
solo an airplane and a helicopter on the same day, the youngest
black pilot to fly a helicopter internationally and the youngest
black pilot to fly a helicopter on an international round-trip.
Kelly Anyadiki, a 16-year-old Inglewood
resident, also broke a world record and is now the youngest
black female to solo four airplanes on the same day.
"I'd rather have a plane than a car," said Anyadiki,
who is still waiting to get her driver's license.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a distinguished
group of nearly 1,000 black pilots recruited by the Army to
fly and maintain combat aircraft between 1942 and 1946. Prior
to Tuskegee, no U.S. military pilots had been black.
Photo:Sixteen-year-old pilots Kelly Anyadiki, left, and
Jonathan Strickland, who set world records Saturday, share
their record-setting day with Robin Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow's
Aeronautical Museum at Compton Woodley Airport, where they
learned to fly.(Kevin Chang/ For the Press-Telegram)
The teens flew in and out of Compton
Airport on Saturday as part of a Black History Month Celebration
honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. The young pilots learned to
Aeronautical Museum in the airport, which provides
aviation-themed after-school programs for more than 800 children
in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Robin Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow's
"We're trying to show (the Tuskegee Airmen) that the legacy
is alive," Petgrave said. "Anything is possible for these
kids. We're not limited by color."
Petgrave said the Tuskegee Airmen are major
contributors to the program.
Petgrave, a long-time Hollywood stunt pilot,
founded Tomorrow's Museum in 1997 as a way to keep inner-city
kids off the streets and teach them life skills and discipline
through aviation. As part of the program, children earn "flying
money" by cleaning planes or painting over graffiti.
"Today we're seeing history in the making,"
Petgrave said. "So few African-American kids are introduced
to aviation, by the time they do it, everything they do is
a record." Strickland, who hopes to become a United Airlines
pilot, takes his accomplishments in stride. "I'm having fun,"
he said. "You don't have to do much up there once you're up