Two Young Black Pilots Make History





Two Young Black Pilots Make Aviation History

September 21, 2004, Kenny Roy age 14 and Jimmy Haywood age 11 set off on a 20 hour, round trip flight from Compton Airport, California to Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada in a Cessna 172 single engine airplane.

Kenny Roy completed 50 hours of flight training and was licensed to fly solo under Canadian law. In the United States, the legal age is 16. Jimmy Haywood had 20 hours of flight training. The roundtrip flight was successfully completed on Saturday, September 25th and, while in Canada, Kenny Roy became the youngest African American to be legally licensed to fly solo.  


Kenny had written letters to raise $7,100 toward financing his trip to Canada. Jimmy did the same and completed his flight two years after he nearly drowned in the family pool. His first concern and request after he came out of a two day coma was if he would be able to continue to fly, and, of course, he could.

Two years ago, the Compton Air Fair piqued Jimmy's interest in flying. "When I saw all the cool airplanes, I joined 2-3 days later so that I could be an explorer at the after-school program. In order to fly you have to work or you can do community service, then once you get 115 museum dollars, not real money, you get to go on your first flight," says Jimmy, who wants to fly fighter jets in the Navy.

Both young men are pilots in training at the Compton Woodleigh Airport in the Junior Explorer Training Program of Tomorrow Aeronautics Museum.

The boys even drew accolades from the Tuskegee Airmen organization. "The world records are something the boys can be proud of forever", said Oscar York, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen organization.

 With a certified flight instructor at his side and Kenny in the backseat, Jimmy piloted the Cessna 172, a single-engine plane, for l0 hours each way between Southern California (Compton/Woodley Airport) and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. "I stopped at airports, got fuel and when we got there we went to the hotel and slept and then the next day we went right back to the airport," said Jimmy, who sat on plenty of cushions to see over the dashboard.

Asked if he was afraid to fly out of the country, perhaps like a typical 11-year-old should be, Jimmy quickly answered, "No, I wasn't scared because at the airport you train first, then you go for lessons and I was training for two years."

"I studied all day and night," said Kenny, who says his favorite movie is Soul Plane. "It was kind of hard, but I knew if I didn't I wouldn't have been happy with myself, because I would have come to Canada for nothing."

To celebrate his accomplishment, when he landed several awaiting Canadian air pilots doused Kenny with water, an aviation tradition.

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