18-year-old now youngest Black female certified pilot in New York

Mildred Europa Taylor August 18, 2023
Ariel Messam makes history. Photo via Facebook/Ariel Messam

An 18-year-old African-American woman from Jamaica in New York is now the youngest Black woman to be a Certified Private Pilot in her state.

“Finally got my Private Pilot’s license,” Ariel Messam wrote on Facebook. “Youngest black female in New York to do it too! I’m so grateful for those who made it possible. God is so good. I took my first flight at 14 years old and couple years and financial breaks later, I made it official.”

Messam graduated from Aviation Career & Technical Education High School in Queens, New York in 2022 and received her high school diploma and certification as an Aircraft Powerplant Technician at the same time she was playing varsity basketball, Black News reported.

Following her studies, she started working as a Flight Simulation Instructor at Level Up and Take Off, a New York City-based 501(c)3 organization founded by her brother, Anthony Messam. The organization’s aim is to create future leaders by creating more diversity in aviation by providing exposure and flight training to underserved communities, it says on its website.

Messam, who usually flies out of Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York, also shared a few photos from her travels to Oshkosh, Wisconsin after announcing that she had made history.

Nearly two months ago, Messam also became an ambassador with Girls Love to Fly, a 501(c)3 Non-Profit. “Girls Love to Fly is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit with one mission in mind, to empower women from all walks of life!” she wrote on Instagram. “Their mission is to help women who are interested in becoming aviators through many different ways, including offering scholarship opportunities continuously as well as discovery flights!” 

In the past, women were only training as flight attendants which seemed to be the most attractive work for them within the aviation sector. Piloting was left for men until women started gaining an interest in the field to create diversity and have their dreams come true.

In the U.S. where Messam is, there are less than 150 professional Black women pilots that hold airline transport pilot, commercial, military or certificated flight instructor certificates, according to figures cited by ABC News.

With a few Black women pilots to inspire other young Black women, Messam is determined to create a path for others who look like her to emerge.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 18, 2023


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