Female Pilots Forge Path in Aviation for Women of Color
Currently in the United States, Black women pilots constitute less than half of 1% of the total professional pilot career field, which includes holding airline transport pilot, commercial, military and certified flight instructor licenses.
Four Black women in Michigan are defying the odds and soaring to new heights as commercial airline pilots, all while trailblazing a path to follow for young African American women who are interested in pursuing a career in aviation flight science.
Monique Grayson graduated from West Michigan University (WMU) College of Aviation in 2010, and one year later became a commercial pilot. Today, she captain's a 757 jet.
Monique says she struggled during her first year of flight school, but persevered, leveraging an inspirational quote her father once told her: "If you see something that needs to get done, then do it."
Her confidence improved in 2006 when another woman of color walked into class with aspirations of becoming a pilot.
Alexis Brown graduated from WMU College of Aviation in 2011. She became a commercial airline pilot 4 years later, and has been ever since.
"I got real serious about it in high school," said Alexis Brown, who is a native of Otisville, MI, and graduated from WMU flight school in 2011. "There was only a handful of girls from start to finish in my classes and none of them looked like me, until I met Monique."
"I think the reason why there's so few African American female pilots is because there's a belief that there's a barrier to entry," said Robert Bunday, who's in the midst of his 23rd year as a flight instructor at WMU. "In reality, there is no barrier to entry and I would encourage any young lady of color who wants to pursue aviation to take command and pursue it.