DC teenager set to become nation’s youngest black pilot

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Christopher Ballinger, 17, is on his way to becoming one of the youngest licensed private pilots in the country, WUSA9. The Air Force Junior ROTC Flight School program is to be thanked for setting Ballinger up for success. It was time to increase that 2% of black pilots a few notches.

The report says Ballinger is a rising high school student on track to enter his freshman year of college with a private pilot license (PPL). The minimum age to earn a private pilot license is 17 years. After completing its instrument “checkride” with the Federal Aviation Administration, it will be ready to fly.

“It’s been a phenomenal experience for me the whole way through, but it’s been intense. We wake up at 6 a.m., some mornings at 4:30 a.m. to beat the winds and fly six days a week, hours and school hours on the ground, studying to pass all the tests, but it’s totally worth it,” Ballinger said via WUSA9.

Ballinger dreams of one day flying in the Air Force. Luckily, they are strategizing to increase the opportunities for boys who look like him.

More of the air force time:

Air Force leaders have approved a new plan to create a more diverse pilot corps by 2030, seeking to level the playing field in a profession that remains dominated by white men. The strategy aims to increase opportunities for women and minority Airmen in some of the Air Force’s key occupations, including manned and unmanned aircraft pilots, air combat managers and officers. combat systems.

Aircraft have long been a harder sell to minority communities, whether due to a lack of awareness of these opportunities, fewer resources for science and technology programs, or other socio-economic factors that can impede the pursuit of flight, only to white perspectives. Now, the Air Force is committed to bolstering the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps and Civilian Air Patrol programs, and targeting underrepresented groups in social media and marketing campaigns.

The service hopes to increase the number of events with underrepresented youth by 300% by fiscal year 2025, for a total of 300 engagements per year. JROTC slots aim to grow from 120 in 2018 to 500 by 2023, with a particular focus on recruiting participants without prior involvement with the Air Force.

According to WUSA9, Ballinger was stationed at Walla Walla University as part of an eight-week Flight Academy program. He was the second cadet ready to perform a solo field flight, a task most candidates take months to prepare for.

Between the Air Force and commercial aviation, blacks make up less than 12% of all pilots. It will be our young people who begin to take control of industries where we have historically been outnumbered. Just a few months ago, teenage DMV Caleb Smith was honored by the Air Force, had the opportunity to fly an Air Force helicopter over DC, and is now working towards obtaining his glider pilot license, according to WUSA9.

It’s so refreshing to see “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the answers come to life.

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