FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (PIX11) – There aren’t too many 15-year-olds that can say they’ve flown a plane. Ewart Campbell is one of them.
“I do a lot of flight simulations at home and it helps me practice for whenever I get out into the real world. It helps me practice anything I learned on the ground so I can actually practice that in the air,” said Campbell.
Campbell is one of many kids who are learning to fly with Brian Worthington at Republic Airport on Long Island in order to become pilots. Worthington is the president of the local chapter of the Black Pilots of America, called the New York Metro Black Pilots of America. It’s a non-profit organization that works to increase aviation opportunities for people of color and those from underprivileged communities.
“One of the problems with aviation, at least for us, is that it’s not affordable. It’s expensive to own a plane, it’s expensive to operate a plane but there are ways we can make it affordable. So that’s my job to get that information out there so we can get more people who look like us in the cockpit,” said Worthington.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 3% of pilots are Black and even fewer are women.
Since its inception in 2014, NYMBPA has been preparing the next generation of aviation enthusiasts. Worthington said they’re also committed to honoring the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black military pilots who fought in WWII.
“The Tuskegee Airmen are very important. Without them, there will be no us. And it’s not only young aviators, it’s for adults as well. We hold ground classes, we also do drone operation classes and other aviation-related courses to get you in the air,” said Worthington.
Worthington along with other members of the organization teach courses to get people flying. They also mentor kids in New York City to let them know about careers in the industry.
“Growing up as a young kid in the inner city we don’t have the opportunity that some of these other kids might have in other areas. So now it’s my absolute duty to give back and to let these young aviators know that there are people in the cockpit that look like them and doing big things in aviation,” said Worthington.
For Campbell, the organization is not only equipping him with the skills to fly but also bringing him one step closer to becoming a commercial pilot.
“From an early age every time I looked in the sky and saw a plane, I said I want to be that person flying that. It’s a very different perspective because we’ve been on the ground our whole entire lives so being up in the air is completely different and seeing the world from a different view is a very nice experience,” said Campbell.
To continue its mission and reach people in different communities, the organization hosts different fundraising events. NYMBPA is hosting its first Scholarship Fundraiser Masquerade Ball on Sunday, Feb, 19, at Leonard’s Palazzo.