SWITZERLAND, OCTOBER 19 – Kimberly Anyadike, who was born in 1994, is a pilot from Compton, California. In 2009, at the age of 15, 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.
Kimberly achieved this great heights and set the record after just two years of pilot training through a special after-school programme she enrolled in . The programme was ran by the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton where she lives with her family.
Born in 1994, Anyadike grew up in Compton, California. She has an older brother and sister.Her parents are originally from Nigeria, and their surname Anyadike means “eye of the warrior” in the Igbo language.
As Anyadike gradually built up 100 hours of flight time, she conceived the idea of flying across the country. She wanted to inspire other youth, while also honouring the Tuskegee Airmen, an African-American air combat unit that served during World War II. Departing on June 29, 2009, 15-year-old Anyadike flew a single-engine Cessna 172 from Compton, California to Newport News, Virginia and back, completing the journey in 13 days. She was accompanied by adult safety pilot Ronnell Norman, and Major Levi H. Thornhill, an 87-year-old retired U.S. Air Force pilot who had served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen
While on the 13-day flight, Kimberly successfully flew from Compton to Virginia and back. 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 teenager 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.
Kimberly enjoyed a lot of fame and recognition for her achievements, thereby, 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.