Black Teen Pilot Makes 8,000 Mile Journey Across United States
16-year-old Isaiah Cooper has joined the ranks of the youngest black pilots to fly across the USA.
Cooper, a Compton, CA native, recently successfully landed from his 2-week, 8,000 mile flight at the Compton-Woodley Airport-making him one of the youngest African-Americans to ever pilot a flight across the states. If he has his way, this record-breaking flight is only the beginning. “Next year, I’m looking to be the youngest to fly around the world at the age of 18,” he said in an interview with Mic.
The young pilot’s love of flying began at a young age, thanks to the Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM)- a Compton-based organization that gives at-risk youth the chance to learn how to become pilots. “I started coming to the museum when I was five years old,” Cooper said in the interview. “The first time I was co-pilot, I was seven. The first time that I actually got to pilot a plane with an instructor, I was 11 or 12.”
During his early teen years, he admits to getting into some trouble, calling himself “self-destructive.” “From 12 to 15, I dropped out the program and I was doing pretty bad things,” he said. “My grades were bad, I wasn’t doing so good at school, I wasn’t doing so good at home. I was just self-destructive basically.”
Realizing that he was headed down the wrong path, the teen returned to TAM under the guidance and mentorship of Robin Petgrave, the founder of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. “It’s kinda cool when you see a kid that comes to you with this idea and this dream and then you help them to realize it,” Petgrave said. “Especially when you have your setbacks like he did when Mother Nature challenged him and he had to execute emergency procedures.”
Cooper is currently raising money to fund his flight around the world next year on his GoFund Me, where he wrote “I flew from Compton to Maine, to Washington, to Florida and back to Compton, California. This epic journey gave me the experience necessary to achieve my ultimate goal to be the youngest person to fly solo around the world at age 18.”
Photo Credit: Isaiah Cooper Go Fund Me