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 Post subject: Teen pilot who flew across the country...
PostPosted: November 5th, 2009, 12:29 pm 
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returns home to Compton
Trained how to fly in a program for disadvantaged youths, she is believed to be the youngest African American female pilot to make the trip across the U.S.
By My-Thuan Tran|July 12, 2009

A 15-year-old Los Angeles girl who navigated a single-engine Cessna through thunderstorms in Texas and took in breathtaking aerial views of Arizona's sunsets landed her plane to cheering crowds at Compton Woodley Airport on Saturday. She is believed to be the youngest African American female pilot to fly solo across the country.

Kimberly Anyadike took off from Compton 13 days ago with an adult safety pilot and Levi Thornhill, an 87-year-old who served with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. They flew to Newport News, Va., making about a dozen stops along the way.

Anyadike learned to fly a plane and helicopter when she was 12 with the Compton-based Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum, which offers aviation lessons to at-risk youth and economically disadvantaged students through an after-school program. The organization owns the small plane Anyadike flew.

Anyadike said she loved the feeling of streaking across the sky. She told her mother that it was like a wild ride at Magic Mountain.

She came up with the idea to fly across the country a few months after learning to fly. Robin Petgrave, the aeronautical museum's founder, warned her that it would take a lot of preparation.

"I told her it was going to be a daunting task," he said, "but she just said, 'Put it on. I got big shoulders.' "

The organization said there is no official group that tracks such records, but their research showed that her trip at age 15 is rare among pilots.

Anyadike said she didn't want to make the trip to set a record or become some kind of celebrity.

"I wanted to inspire other kids to really believe in themselves," she said. She also wanted to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, the U.S. Army Air Corps' all-black combat unit that served during World War II.

"They left such a great legacy. I had big shoes to fill," she said. "All they wanted to do was to be patriots for this country. They were told no, that they were stupid, that they didn't have cognitive development to fly planes. They didn't listen. They just did what they wanted to do."

Anyadike's Cessna and the other planes at Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum have red tails, similar to the Tuskegee Airmen's planes.

During her cross-country trip, Anyadike met about 50 Tuskegee Airmen who autographed the Cessna. "That way they can fly with us forever," Petgrave said.


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