In the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico, a young trailblazer is rewriting aviation history. Seventeen-year-old Gabriel Carothers has soared to new heights, becoming the youngest African-American pilot in the state and leaving an indelible mark on the skies. Carothers’ journey from a childhood fascination with flight to making history as a licensed pilot exemplifies dedication, passion, and a commitment to inspiring others in the field of aviation.
Early Passion Ignited:
Gabriel Carothers’ love affair with aviation began at the tender age of five when he experienced the thrill of flight in a family friend’s Cessna 182. His father, Alex Carothers, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, played a pivotal role in nurturing this passion, taking Gabriel and his brother on flights that ignited a spark that would grow into a lifelong fascination.
Building Dreams and Simulators:
At 14, Carothers took his enthusiasm for aviation to the next level by designing and building his own flight simulator. The process involved extensive research into computer components and programming, showcasing his commitment to understanding the intricate details of aviation technology. This early initiative reflected Carothers’ determination to hone his skills for future endeavors in the cockpit.
Historic Achievement at 17:
Carothers’ relentless pursuit of his dream reached a historic milestone when, at the age of 17, he completed his private pilot check ride. In doing so, he etched his name in New Mexico’s aviation history as the youngest African-American pilot, achieving a feat that wasn’t about making history for him but simply doing what he loves – flying.
Inspiration and Mentorship:
Beyond his personal achievements, Carothers actively engages with his community as a member of the General Lloyd “Fig” Newton Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. This nonprofit organization, named after the first African-American pilot in the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, aims to expose underrepresented youth to aviation and STEM through hands-on experiences. Carothers, following in his father’s footsteps, teaches the basics of flight at STEM events, leaving a trail for aspiring aviators to follow.
As Carothers prepares to graduate from the Southwest Aeronautics, Mathematics, and Science (SAMS) Academy in May 2023, he envisions a future filled with exciting possibilities. His plans include pursuing a Leadership in Flight Training (LIFT) Academy on the East Coast, exploring Warbirds and vintage aircraft, and aspiring to join the military aviation sector by applying to the Air Force Academy.
Gabriel Carothers’ journey is not just about personal achievement but also about inspiring the next generation of aviators. His story is a beacon of hope, breaking barriers in an industry where diversity is key. As he continues to set ambitious goals and chart a course for the future, Carothers exemplifies the spirit of perseverance, passion, and leadership that will undoubtedly inspire others to reach for the skies and beyond.
Justin Mutawassim defies the conventional image of a pilot. Rising from the ranks of a 27-year-old African American ramp agent at Delta Air Lines, he now commands the cockpit for the same renowned airline. His narrative is a testament to resilience, mentorship, and an unyielding passion for aviation.
At the tender age of 5, Mutawassim took his inaugural flight, captivated by the intricate buttons and controls of the cockpit. Enamored with the idea of becoming a pilot, his dream encountered an unforeseen hurdle in middle school. A teacher, a US Air Force veteran, informed him that perfect vision was a prerequisite for pilots, dampening Mutawassim’s spirits as a glasses-wearer.
Post high school, he opted for a career in broadcasting but found it lacking. A shift occurred in 2014 when he secured a position as a ramp agent at Delta Air Lines. While he excelled in loading baggage, supervising, and training others, a yearning for the skies persisted.
The turning point arrived in 2016 when he crossed paths with Ivor Martin, a Black pilot who became his mentor. Bolstered by Martin’s encouragement and guidance, Mutawassim reignited his dream. In less than a year, with Martin’s unwavering support, he completed the necessary licenses.
Embarking on his aviation career, he flew for a regional airline in 2018 and later joined a start-up airline. A pivotal moment occurred in 2022 when Delta Air Lines modified their pilot requirements, no longer mandating a college degree. Seizing the opportunity, Mutawassim applied, successfully navigated the training, and ascended to the coveted position of a Delta pilot, realizing a dream that once seemed unattainable. Click here to read more about Justin.