Like heroes of old who have written their names in the sands of time, new heroes continue to spring up on a daily bases, and what is most amazing is that, some of these men and women are Nigerians.
Nigeria as a country is not just gifted with natural resources, but also with human and material resources; Nigerians who have set-forth to discover themselves and conquer that which bring fulfillment into their lives. Nigerians, both home and abroad, who know that sacrifice and zeal comes with its own reward.
Today, however, I bring to you the first young black woman to fly a plane. I bet you would not believe, if I tell you, she is a Nigerian.
Meet Kimberly Anyadike:
Born in 1994 by Nigerian parents, she is known as the first african-american teenager to fly across the United States unaided.
Like every child, when Kimberly Anyadike was little, her heroes were superheroes like Super man, Ben 10 etc. “I’d see Superman or Wonder Woman flying on TV and think, ‘That’s so cool!'” she says. “My brother and sister and I would tie towels around our necks for capes and run around the house jumping off the couches and banisters. Every year I would ask Santa for a jet pack.” However, in an after-school program at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton, California, the 12-year-old took a spin in a single-engine Cessna 172. Midflight, she was thrilled when the instructor handed her the controls. “Afterward my mom asked if I wanted to take flying lessons, I said, ‘Yes!'”
That was it…..Three years later, in 2009, Anyadike became the youngest African-American female in history to pilot a round-trip, coast-to-coast flight. “Flying over Texas was the most fun because there were a lot of summer rainstorms,” Anyadike says. “I wasn’t scared—I’m never scared. I just focus. And before every flight, I pray.”
Anyadike learned to fly at age 12 through the Compton-based Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, which offers aviation lessons in an after-school program for disadvantaged youths, the Los Angeles Times reported. It was their plane that she flew on her cross-country trip.
The brave teenager came up with the idea for the trip on her own, the museum’s founder, Robert Petgrave, told the Times.
“I told her it was going to be a daunting task, but she just said, ‘Put it on. I got big shoulders,'” Petgrave said.
Along for the historic ride were an adult safety pilot and 87-year-old Levi Thornhill, one of the Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II.
She flew from Compton, California to Newport News, Virginia in 2009. It took her 13 days to complete the flight. The miles flown were 2,342. The plane used was a Cessna C-172. She was accompanied by safety pilot Ronnell Norman, a certified commercial pilot and Major Levi H. Thornhill, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot who at age 87, is a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen who served during World War II.
Her motivation, according to her statement: “They left such a great legacy,” Anyadike said of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ all-black combat unit. “I had big shoes to fill. … All they wanted to do was to be patriots for this country. They were told no, that they were stupid, that they didn’t have cognitive development to fly planes. They didn’t listen. They just did what they wanted to do.”
Anyadike plans to become a cardiovascular surgeon after college, but for now the big goal is earning a couple of licenses this summer—pilot’s and driver’s. “When I’m flying, I’m in control. I trust myself,” she says. “The sound of the engine, the movement of the propeller—it’s like gravity gets suspended. It’s as if you’re closer to heaven.” Or to being a superhero.
“I wanted to inspire other kids to really believe in themselves,” Anyadike said.
Anyadike means, Eye of a Worrior, in Igbo language, Nigeria.
She is indeed a worrior, one to be proud of.