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  Youngest pilot to set world flight records-Jonathan Strickland

[March 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 on Saturday.

   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.
   (enlarge photo)

   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 fly through
Tomorrow's 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 Aeronautical Museum:   
"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 there."


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