In 2009, Kimberly Anyadike, an African American teenager of Nigerian descent made history and became the first African American female and the youngest African American to fly an aeroplane across the United States.
She was 15 years old when she achieved the feat.
To set the record, she completed a transcontinental flight across the United States, from Los Angeles, California to Newport News, Virginia.
Anyadike was accompanied by an adult safety pilot, and by a retired Air Force pilot who had served with the WWII Tuskegee Airmen. Her plane was autographed by about 50 Tuskegee airmen as she stopped at different cities across the US, and she completed the round-trip journey in a single-engine Cessna 172 in 13 days.
While on the 13-day flight, Kimberly successfully flew from Compton to Virginia and back.
Kimberly achieved this great height and set the record after just two years of pilot training through a special after-school program she enrolled in which is run by the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton where she lives with her family.
After her successful 13-day flight ended on July 11, 2009, Kimberly was immediately awarded by the County of Los Angeles and was invited to visit the California State Capitol by the then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In an interview with CNN, she described the experience as a dream come true and an amazing experience with only a light storm and bad weather as her challenge.
Kimberly fell in love with planes and flying at the age of 12 while learning about the African American pilots who flew in the World War. The lessons in history school inspired the then 12-year-old who had dreams of becoming a cardiovascular surgeon to achieve more and also become a certified pilot breaking records in America and for the black community at large.
During the 13 days and 7000 miles’ flight, Kimberly had with her Levi Thornhill who was at the time 87 years old and had trained her to fly a plane. For Kimberly Anyadike, having Levi Thornhill on the flight was an honour because of the role he played during World War II as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen are African American military pilots who served during World War II.
Kimberly enjoyed a lot of fame and recognition for her achievements encouraging young girls and black people, in general, to follow their dreams and never stop believing in them. During her flight, she made stops to speak with several young people and meet many of the Tuskegee Airmen who signed her plane.
In 2015, Anyadike received the first Young Aviator’s Award from the Tuskegee Airmen in recognition of her achievements. In 2016, she graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with an undergraduate degree in Physiological Science.
She was also recognized for her achievements as a young polite and received the Tuskegee Airmen’s inaugural Young Aviators Award in Tuskegee Alabama in 2015.
In 2017 was interviewed by Disney Channel during a special Black History Month show, True Heroes Are Timeless.
Earlier in 2018, Pilot Kimberly Anyadike was invited to speak at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day event at West Covina Civic Center where she spoke as a 23-year-old full of hope and determination encouraging the youth to be inspired by their history and not let race limit them to achieve their dreams.
Kimberly was born in Compton, California in 1994. She is the youngest of three children to Nigerian Igbo parents who relocated to the U.S.
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