Here at Black & Abroad, we work to ensure that our mission concedes simple brand recognition.
Often along the way, we encounter other like-minded individuals that have successfully mastered the space beyond their anticipated approach to empower the diaspora.
These are the influencers, visionaries, and tastemakers that have managed to successfully employ their own blueprints to create a better world for us tomorrow.
Throughout this series, we will present to you a hand-picked line-up of black-owned & operated brands and individuals that deserve your consideration.
That deserve your support.
That deserve your attention.
Welcome to the Black & Abroad Conversation Series.
My name is Zavien and I’m 10 years old. When I grow up I really want to become a pilot. When you are a kid, it can sometimes be challenging to choose the career you want to be when you grow up. However, for me it came easy because of my interest in flying planes. I also love traveling by plane and watching airplane shows often.
Recently, I was given an opportunity to interview airline transport pilot Mr. Curtis Austin. During the interview with Mr. Austin I was a bit nervous. However, I was very confident that it would go as planned. He was able to teach me a lot about the steps I need to take to follow my dreams which really helped me. I also found out some interesting facts. Did you know that only about 3% of pilots are African American? Also, I found out that flight schools may offer discovery flights for future pilots like me.
After the interview I felt good about myself and I was proud, because I had completed my first interview. During the process, I learned how to send emails, start an interview and how to create good detailed questions that will help others like myself with becoming a pilot. Check out the interview below:
What helped to pique your interest in aviation?
Curtis: My dad was a pilot for a couple years too and took me on my first flight when I was a baby. Both of my parents were in the Air Force and we went to airshows all the time. I was always fascinated by the military jets doing the aerial displays!!!
At what age did you start flight school and how many years did it take you to complete the curriculum?
Curtis: I started flight school at the age of 18. It took me 4 years to complete my flight training and get my degree.
Did you have to attend a 4-year college? If so which university did you attend and which degree did you receive?
Curtis: I did attend a 4 year college. I attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. I received a Bachelors Degree in Aeronautical Science with a minor in Air Traffic Management (Air Traffic Control).
What do you think children need to focus on now that will help in the future with becoming a pilot and why?
Curtis: I think children should focus on doing well in school, especially math and science. Doing well in school increases your ability to get scholarships for college. I think math and science will help you do better in aviation. There isn't too much math that you have to do because the computer does most of the work, but if the computer should fail having math skills will definitely benefit you.
Which planes do you know how to fly and which is your favorite?
Curtis: Wow, that is a great question. Here is a list of some of the planes I have flown: Cessna 152/172, Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, Piper Cub, Piper Seminole, Piper Arrow, Cirrus SR-20/22, Embraer Phenom 100, Cessna Citation Encore, Beechcraft King Air 350, and I currently fly the Canadair Regional Jets CRJ 200, CRJ 701, and the CRJ 900NG.
I am an Airline Transport Pilot which means I can fly mostly any airplane with the proper training. I would have to say that flying the Piper Cub was my favorite. I only got to fly it once, but it was a blast! Sure it isn't fast, or you can't go really far in it, but it was neat flying around with the window down! My favorite airplane that I am currently flying is the CRJ 900NG. I like them because they are brand new airplanes and are fun to fly.
Being an African American pilot do you face any obstacles?
Curtis: Yes. Being an African American pilot is tough. People will look at you funny or not believe you are the pilot. In those situations you just have to smile and hold your head high. Other African Americans are always excited to see me and say that I am the first black airline captain that they have seen.
How important is travel to you and how has it impacted your life?
Curtis: I love to travel. It is so neat to get paid to fly to different places and getting a chance to explore those places. It has definitely broadened my horizons. I've been to cool places and have tried different kinds of food that I may not have had the chance to try if I didn't travel.
Are there any mentoring programs or youth camps you would suggest for kids interested in the aviation field?
Curtis: The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) have youth camps and I think they have mentoring programs as well. I am definitely going to get more involved in the youth camps because it is our duty to expose more children to aviation.
What is the hardest part about being a pilot?
Curtis: I would say being away from friends and family. My family and friends understand, but it can be tough missing out on holidays or special occasions because of work.
What is your proudest moment as a pilot?
Curtis: I think my proudest moment was my first solo. I remember doing touch and goes with my instructor and then he told me to pull off to the side. He got out and said, "Go do three take offs and landings and come back and get me." I was nervous but excited to be flying the plane all by myself!!
When was the last time you fulfilled one of your life goals? Let us know in the comments below!
Zavien is a young writer and founding member of the company 4 Deep Around The World. This 10-year-old entrepreneur has aspirations of becoming a pilot. You can find out more about 4 Deep Around The World on their Facebook page and check out their merchandise at their website: weare4deep.com.