In 1976, approximately 80 black pilots were employed by the nation’s major and commuter passenger airlines and freight carriers. By 1986 that number had risen to nearly 400, and today the total is estimated to be 674, including a mere 14 black female pilots. However throughout the world, there are over 71,000 licensed pilots dominating the skies.
In an effort to combat the sobering statistics, Malone AirCharter recently held an open house at their Craig Field location on St John’s Bluff Rd. The objective of the showcase was to continue the fight for runway expansion and highlight the many aviation opportunities available to adults and students in Jacksonville. Participating guests of diverse ages had the opportunity to sit in simulators and fly over the airfield in one of the planes in the company’s luxury chartered fleet.
Malone’s Outreach Coordinator Denise Hunt has been working hard to make an impact in the community. So far, over 15 children from the urban core’s YouthWorks program have participated in the open house. Pictured is Steven Brant, age 22, a former student at FSCJ, who is in the process of registering with Liberty’s Aviation program.
“I’ve always wanted to fly planes. My father knows one of the pilots at Malone and told him I was interested. Today I flew in a Piper Archer Aircraft and spoke to a Liberty University recruiter. I’m ready to do what it takes to become a licensed aviator,” he said.
People of color are still shattering stereotypes as pilots. Recently conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter refused to stay on board a Miami to New York commercial airline flight after learning the pilot was a woman of African-American descent.
According to witness reports Coulter was concerned the experienced, decorated pilot in question may have gained her position as a result of affirmative action and wasn’t fully qualified to fly. The pilot was a decorated war veteran.
Malone is also interested in working with established organizations who work with youth.
“I would love to assist in expanding the aviation feel for increasing minority pilots,” said Malone Marketing Director Marshall Wood. He encourages the community to reach out to him for partnership opportunities to increase exposure. According to Wood, opportunities include tours, scholarships, ‘first flight’ experiences and much more. For more information, call 904-425-0325.