The Brightside: Flying High
“It was my first trip to America that inspired me to get into the field of aviation.”
Penni Kimani is a rising junior at Delaware State University.
The Kenyan native moved to America when she was just eight and made up her mind during the 14-hour flight that she’d rule the sky when she grew up.
“I stayed up the entire time and I watched the plane fly. I watched the clouds when we flew over cities. When we flew over Europe and saw the lights. I just fell in love with… It sounds weird but I fell in love with the sky.”
Penni has a ways to go, but during her time in DSU’s aviation program, she’s getting the attention of several non-profits like the Philadelphia chapter of the Tuskegee airmen, who just granted her a $3500 dollar scholarship.
“Right now I’m a private pilot with an instrument rating and I’m currently working on my commercial license.”
She has a big goal that she’s not that far away from achieving.
“Right now my goal is to be in the right seat of a jet by the time I’m 22.”
Its a male-dominated field, but here at DSU in Dover she’s getting world-class instruction from a school with a rich history.
“The War department established the civilian pilot training program and included six HBCUs in that program.”
That program ultimately became the Tuskegee Airmen program in 1940 and included students from Delaware State University.
Those men were ground breakers and she hopes what she’s doing will also inspire others.
“There aren’t many women and there aren’t that many women of color in aviation because there’s such a lack of representation.”
In the meantime, department officials say they are proud of Penni and other successful graduates of the program.
“We have students or former students or former students if you would who are alumni that are working in every airline that there is in the United States. You pick the airline, we have a former student who works for them.”