Walking onto an airplane and seeing a black pilot is as rare as a blood moon sighting.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that of the approximately 690,000 active certificated pilots in the U.S., less than 3 percent are African American.
While a blood moon occurs about every two years, Jerome Stanislaus often takes the pilot’s seat in the cockpit of a private aircraft.
He pilots friends, family members, and others from New York to Philadelphia.
Sometimes, he flies further south to Virginia.
And, there are occasions where he traverses the skies above the Big Apple on a traffic-beating short flight to Long Island.
“Right now, I’m in San Antonio going through Flight Engineer School in the Airforce for the C5 Galaxy,” Stanislaus said.
The C5 Galaxy is a large military transport aircraft.
“It’s a huge cargo plane, and I would like to continue training to make it [as a commercial airline pilot] when I am done with this school,” Stanislaus said.
Despite the limited amount of African Americans in the cockpit, Stanislaus said now is the time for people of color to join the pilot ranks.
“There is about to be a mass exodus of commercial pilots, and their spots will need to be filled,” he said.
“African Americans should know that this is possible for them,” Stanislaus said.
The Brooklyn-born father of two said although he dreamed of becoming a pilot, he never believed he would. And, that belief stemmed from a blunt observation: “I had never seen a black pilot,” he said.
Earlier this year, Stanislaus began donating his free time to a nonprofit that helps racially diverse children and young adults explore their interest in flying.
“My family has always been extremely supportive of my flying. I have two daughters, and they have their dreams and flying isn’t one of them,” Stanislaus said. “As far as they are concerned they don’t need to be pilots if I can just fly them where they want to go,” he said.
After graduating high school, Stanislaus trained to become an aircraft mechanic in the Marine Corps.
Later, he earned a degree in airport management and then went to work as a school teacher.
Flying, however, remained his foremost passion.
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Source: Black Press USA