According to the BLS, only 3% of commercial pilots in America are Black people. 90% of all pilots in the U.S. are white and 91% are men. However, there is a pair of Black pilots who want to fix this disparity. Courtland Savage and Jerome Stanislaus created Fly For The Culture, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for Black kids to further their education around aviation.
Fly For The Culture offers free flying lessons for minorities as well as mentorship for students who want to pursue careers above the ground. Stanislaus said in a CNN interview, "But I never believed that I would ever actually become a pilot. I did not really believe it was possible — even though I had so much support from my family. I told myself I couldn't do it because I had never seen a Black pilot — not one time. I didn't think that Black kids actually grew up to be pilots. I thought it was just rich white kids."
The idea to create the nonprofit came from Savage, who currently is a commercial pilot in North Carolina, who believes the money in the aviation industry should be available to Black people as well. He said, "I just want to use this nonprofit to get that idea out there. We didn't expect all this to happen. We were just two young guys who want to fly kids." Aviation is a very expensive field to enter, which is a barrier for people of color. Especially because there are little to no models of Black pilots as current examples.
There are more opportunities for Blacks to get involved in aviation and become pilots, due to there being an ever-increasing number of flights across the world. Savage added he and Stanislaus were paying $150 per flight out of their own money for the nonprofit, but donations began to come in because news coverage ramped up. With the increase in funding, the pair plans to expand the program across the nation.
So far, they have taken over 35 students on flights, which they began doing last year. Check out the Instagram page here.