“Black people don’t fly.” That’s what DeAndre Jamison heard, when as a little boy he inquired about becoming a pilot.
Though DeAndre and I had never met in person, we’d corresponded for several months when he emailed that he and his wife Christine would be visiting friends in Page, Arizona, where they’d lived before moving to Indiana.
Page is only 45 minutes from Flagstaff by Flying Carpet, but I hadn’t flown there in years. This seemed a perfect opportunity to meet new friends and revisit cherished terrain. Page perches along stunning Lake Powell, on the Utah border. When I wrote, “Can I fly up and meet you for breakfast?” DeAndre responded enthusiastically.
I launched northward for Page that Saturday morning, pleased to be traveling without novice passengers. For although skies were clear, howling southwest winds generated devilish turbulence downwind of the 12,000-foot San Francisco Peaks, and then along the eastern edges of the Grand and Marble Canyons. Soon cobalt Lake Powell filled my windshield, pierced by golden buttes hinting at those of Monument Valley 60 miles away. I wrestled the airplane to a landing, and was opening the door when a young couple approached.
“I’m DeAndre,” said the young man, pumping my hand, “and this is Christine.”
How cool, to meet a black general aviation pilot! I thought. Then I pondered the strangeness of that reflexive response. Why aren’t there more minority pilots? I vowed to question DeAndre if the opportunity arose…
CONTINUE READING GREG’S FEBRUARY FLYING CARPET COLUMN, “CARRYING THE FLAG,” HERE. (Please allow a moment for the article to load.) This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine, 2/12 issue.
Photo: Pilot DeAndre Jamison checks out the Flying Carpet at Page, Arizona. SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE.
©2012 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!