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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

This 23-Year-Old Made History When He Piloted This Boeing Plane And Didn’t Even Know It

Growing up, Malik Sinegal didn’t just dream of becoming a pilot one day, he envisioned himself at the helm of a Boeing 777 airliner, the world’s largest twinjet plane.

At 23, the Biloxi, Mississippi, native has accomplished his childhood dream and, in doing so, has become the youngest Black person in the world to be certified as a Boeing 777 pilot, an honor he told Fox-affiliate WXXV-25 is rarely accomplished by members of Gen Z.

“The Triple 7 is one of the airplanes that people usually don’t touch until they’re around their forties or fifties or they’ve been at the airlines for a very long time. And I came down with the opportunity where–a scholarship opportunity where I was able to get into the airplane,” Sinegal said.

Flying the aircraft has been a motivating and driving force for the 23-year-old that culminated in a trip to the one spot in the world that he one day wished of flying to.

“The biggest reason for me is that I’ve always wanted to fly this airplane. 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," he said. 

Sinegal told WXXV-25 that he was unaware he had accomplished the honor until an official from Boeing told him that he had made history.

With his new certification, Sinegal is doing flight instruction at New Height’s Aviation in nearby Batesville, Mississippi.

In 2019, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that just 2.6% of America’s aircraft pilots were Black. However, a new wave of Black pilots are joining Sinegal in defying the numbers and achieving greatness.

This summer, Virginia native Madeline Swegle became the first Black woman to be named a fighter jet pilot in the U.S. Navy after completing the Tactical Air aviator syllabus, as Blavity previously reported.

The Navy lieutenant graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017 and is qualified to fly jets like the F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted that Swegle is an inspiration to young Black girls with similar sky-high aspirations in July.

Last year, 16-year-old Sydney-Marie Flowers opted to pursue her private pilot’s license before obtaining her driver’s license.

After being honored as a top student at an aviation camp, Flowers was selected to participate in a national camp sponsored by the U.S. Air Force. Through the program, she took her first solo flight on the same field where the Tuskegee Airmen trained during World War II, which was the last training conducted on the field since.

“They only pick 20 students out of the whole entire country. I just felt that it was a real accomplishment for me, and also a privilege to step on the same field the Tuskegee airman stepped on,” she said.

from Blavity News

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