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Memphis-area pilot academy to concentrate on diversity

The Organization for Black Aerospace Professionals, a Chicago-based nonprofit that encourages the advancement of minorities in aviation and aerospace careers, is opening an aviation learning facility near Memphis, Tennessee, with plans to increase diversity of the airline industry by “50 pilots per year within the next five years.”

The Organization for Black Aerospace Professionals is opening an aviation learning facility near Memphis, Tennessee, with plans to increase diversity in the airline and aerospace industry. Photo courtesy of the Organization for Black Aerospace Professionals.

The Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. Flight Academy is named after the FAA’s first African-American air traffic controller, the organization noted in a June 5 news release. The academy is located across the state line in northern Mississippi, adjacent to the Olive Branch Airport, and close to the Memphis global hub of commercial package transportation giant FedEx.

The center aims to add 100 Shelby County private and instrument rated pilots, 100 flight instructors, and 125 high school solo pilots to the skies by 2025, the news release noted.

The facility will offer learning options for nearly every facet of the aviation industry, including training in Part 141 and 161 operations, unmanned pilot operations, aviation maintenance, air traffic control operations, and U.S. Air Force candidate flight training. The facility will also offer jet and military rotor wing to fixed wing transition training.

A June 20 ribbon cutting ceremony was planned to coincide with a celebration of aviation for Memphis youth and 50 students planned to participate in discovery flights. Some of the students are participating in the organization’s summer aviation career education youth camps, commonly called ACE camps. The summer camps for young aviation enthusiasts are in their 26th year and are held in 30 U.S. cities.

OBAP’s professional development convention and career exposition is planned for Aug. 14 through 17 in Houston.

David Tulis
David Tulis
Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Aviation Education Programs, Aviation Organizations

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