If you think flying a plane is hard, try flying the world’s largest twinjet plane. That’s what Malik Sinegal, a 23-year-old from Biloxi, Mississippi, does. He is the youngest African American ever to become a certified Boeing 777 pilot in the country — and he didn’t even know it until he got a call from Boeing to congratulate him.
Sinegal has always loved aviation since he was a kid. He got his private pilot certificate at 18 and studied commercial aviation at Delta State University, where he graduated in 2019. He also traveled the world as an ambassador for Republic Airlines, visiting places like Egypt, Dubai, Australia and Tokyo.
But his ultimate dream was to fly the Boeing 777, also known as the Triple 7. It’s one of the most advanced and powerful planes in the world, capable of carrying up to 550 passengers and flying over 9,000 miles nonstop. It’s also one of the most challenging planes to fly, requiring years of experience and training.
Sinegal got his chance when he received a scholarship opportunity to get into the cockpit of the Triple 7. He completed his training and certification in October 2020, making history as the youngest Black person to do so.
“I’ve always wanted to fly this airplane,” Sinegal told News 25. “I was able to get in it for my first time in 2004 going to Anchorage, Alaska, which is my favorite place in the world.”
Sinegal’s achievement is remarkable, especially considering the lack of diversity in the aviation industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 3% of commercial airline pilots in the U.S. are Black. Sinegal hopes to inspire more young people of color to pursue their aviation dreams.
“I want to show them that this is possible,” he said. “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
Sinegal is currently working as a flight instructor at New Heights Aviation in Batesville, Mississippi. He is also the founder of the Organization for Professional Minority Pilots, based in Memphis, Tennessee. He plans to continue his career as a pilot and eventually fly for a major airline.
Sinegal is not only a pilot, but also a role model. He shows us that with passion, dedication and hard work, anything is possible. He deserves to be celebrated for breaking barriers and soaring high.
“I have been blessed enough to see all of the amazing opportunities that this world is ready to offer us,” he said. “What you do today will set you in the right path for the rest of your life.”
Another king making us proud in the skies is Delante Sykes. Some people have a clear vision of what they want to do in life from a very young age. Delante Sykes is one of them. He knew he wanted to be a pilot ever since he was six years old, when he saw a plane flying over his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. He was fascinated by the idea of flying and exploring the world.
But his dream was not easy to achieve. He faced many challenges and obstacles along the way, such as financial difficulties, lack of mentors, and discrimination. He had to work hard, study hard, and persevere through many setbacks and disappointments. He never gave up on his passion, even when others doubted him or tried to discourage him.
After 11 years of dedication and determination, he finally realized his dream. He graduated from the Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation with a bachelor’s degree in aviation flight science and a commercial pilot license. He also became the first African American male to receive the WMU President’s Award for Aviation Excellence, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement, leadership, and service. Read more about Delante here.
We want to appreciate Malik and Delante for being a barrier breaker. Such a young and talented pilots. They are not only flying high, but he is also lifting others along the way. You are a true Rising African and a great example for younger Africans.
Through our Success Stories portal, we celebrate Rising Africans of all ages and sectors who have risen above challenges and made impactful innovations. Our Wonder Kids section features young achievers aged 1-12, while the Super Teens category highlights those aged 13-19, and Young Achievers profiles those aged 20-30. We also have dedicated portals for Women in Africa and persons living with disabilities.