Kimberly Anyadike is born to Nigerian parents and named the first African-American teen to fly across the United States breaking a stunning and exemplary record at the age of 15.
Kimberly achieved this feat in 2009. She intends to become a cardiovascular surgeon after her college education but has a passion for flying aircrafts. A cardio-vascular surgeon with a pilot’s license, what an immense achievement that would be!
Born in Los Angeles in 1994, Kimberly’s dream of flying began when she was a pre-teen (12 years old). She was inspired by a group of airmen and the first African American female to travel in space among others.
She had attended lessons from the Compton-based Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM) run by Tuskegee Airmen Foundation, a foundation that has a history of fighting in the World War II. The foundation is made up of a group of African American pilots. Her journey into the world of piloting commenced with a 20-minute demo flight.
TAM offers aviation lessons as well as youth mentoring in a programme it organised after school hours for disadvantaged youths. The organisation assists to urge youths to embrace aviation rather than turning wayward through drugs, violence and so on.
This group of airmen officially made up the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Corps (United States Army Air Forces after 20 June 1941). The Tuskegee 332nd Fighter Group was reported as the only operational unit first sent abroad as part of Operation Torch, then also active in Sicily and Italy, before subsequently deployed as bomber escorts in Europe where they were very successful.
Kimberly had determinedly paid her way through the lessons through several regular jobs and odd jobs. She was reported to have washed airplanes as well as done other errands to earn what was called, ‘museum dollars,’ which she traded in for flight lessons. All this she did while still focused on achieving her dream of flying. She maintained an outstanding academic record during this period which was a criterion for remaining in the programme.
And then she made Nigerians proud by flying from Compton, California to Newport News, Virginia without much technical support. The journey took her 13 days and she covered 2,342 miles using a Cessna C-172.
Kimberly did not go the miles alone, she was in the company of safety pilot Ronnell Norman, a certified commercial pilot and Major Levi H. Thornhill, a retired US Air Force pilot, aged 87 and a member of the elite Tuskegee Airmen who served during the World War II.
She told the media regarding the super cross-country journey that brought her to fame that, “Flying over Texas was the most fun because there were a lot of summer rainstorms. I wasn’t scared; I’m never scared.
I remained focused. And before every flight, I pray,” she had commented, hoping that her achievements would be an inspiration to other young people.
Earlier in life, Kimberly had the opportunity of engaging in other extracurricular activities such as being a junior lifeguard at Venice Beach for five years, and also learning to surf at the time. Having an interest in dancing, she had gone ahead to attend the Lula Washington Dance Academy.
While she was there, she learned ballet and hip-hop and tap dance. She was also active in church activities and took up the role of a youth leader. During that time in the church, she engaged in more learning, especially how to read music. She is also learning how to play the piano, violin and guitar.
Completing a course in Los Angeles Trade Technical College at the Saturday Science Academy at Charles Drew University, she took a variety of art courses at the Plaza De La Raza. Kimberly has also been involved in some charity work as a volunteer to feed the homeless in downtown Los Angeles while maintaining her Grade Point Average (GPA) so that she would be able to attend Stanford, Yale or Harvard University. We do hope Kimberly keeps up the fantastic work and that she would achieve all that she has lined up for her future.
This story should inspire young people in Nigeria and all over the world that the sky is not even their limit but the beginning. They can achieve all the good things they want to with prayers, focus, determination and
Kimberly wishes to inspire other young people with her story and hope this story of her achievements has inspired you to go out there and succeed.