Coming of age in Pensacola, I was very fascinated by the power of flight and the freedom that it gives. Today, as a Flight Instructor when I'm up in the heavens teaching students I am still fascinated. But there was one problem, I never saw anyone who looked like me who was an aviator. Even though I had seen the movie Tuskegee Airmen (1995).
It wasn't until June of 1998 (age 11) that I had the opportunity to not only be a part of the General Daniel "Chappie" James, Jr. Flight Academy, but to see and be around highly accomplished black aviators as a benchmark and Northstar to accomplish my dream as an aviator.
Ever since that memorable year, I have owed a tremendous debt of gratitude to the academy staff and the example of General James.
I wouldn't be where I am without the support, guidance and leadership of the academy
Mychal J. Martin
Certified Flight Instructor
All2Fly Aviation Academy
I’m Airmen First Class(A1C) Isaiah Herring, KC-135 Assistant Dedicated Crew Chief (USAF) stationed at RAF Mildenhall, UK on a short overseas tour.
I attended the Chappie James Flight Academy back in 2007 for the first time when my uncle Cliff Curtis brought me out. I was maybe 7 years old and all of the other campers there were at least middle or high school age, so I pretty much just went with the flow. I was welcomed in learning and having fun just like everyone else. For as long as I can remember I always had an interest in planes and aviation, I told myself I was gonna be a pilot someday.
As I got older, I started looking deeper into the aviation career field. By the summer going into my 9th grade year I stumbled upon a career in aerospace engineering which intrigued me to keep looking further into it.
That same summer I went back to the Flight Academy, this time with a good head on my shoulders ready to learn and take in all the information I could from a well experienced staff of people who have been in aviation for probably longer than I have been alive. That gave me a good hindsight on planes, aviation, how planes fly and the basic principles of flight.
I then ended up getting the opportunity to attend the National Flight Academy on NAS for a week. That was a really good, fun eye-opening experience for me as well. By about my junior year in high school my mind was made up to join the military. It was originally just a plan for them to pay for me to go to school, then I realized what all I could do as far as job wise which led me towards the Air Force because I knew I wanted to do something with planes.
I ended up getting the job Refuel/Bomber Acft maintenance. As a KC-135 Crew Chief, we launch and recover aircraft, inspect them, change tires, brakes, windows, put fuel on them, anything you can think of for the most part we do it. I’m working on getting my Airframe & Power-plant (A&P) License as we speak, which would set me up really good in the civilian world when I choose to get out with a good airline or even private plane company as an aircraft technician.
I can truly say the Chappie James Flight Academy set me up for success in the aviation career field!
Testimony, sent Friday April 24th 2020
I consider the Chappie James Flight Academy to be a keystone to my pilot aspirations.
To hear of a man (Gen James) who did so much in his life when pilots and generals with melanin weren't allowed to exist, it shaped my ideals of perseverance.
The intro flight at the end of the week of Summer Camp is one of my very first logbook entries and I keep it near and dear to my heart. It's the same logbook that I wrote down my last flight as strictly a student pilot.
With the help of founder Mike Fowlkes and Island Air Express, I am now a newly-certified private pilot.
Over the years, all of the staff and instructors have kept up with me and I'm proud to be another part of the success story of the Academy's and Gen James' legacy.
I went on to attend the University of West Florida and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in the spring of 2021.
I'm hoping to one day open a small charter flight company that will offer custom, themed flights to different places around the world. I hope to get hired on somewhere in the aerospace industry to get me closer to the elusive red planet. I am also writing books and hope I can fly myself from place to places when going on a book launch tour.
Student in 2013
The Gen Daniel "Chappie" James Flight Academy has been a success to the community of Pensacola for years. It can be confirmed by the fact that I, Precious Dixon, was a student of the Flight Academy during the year of 2012 at the age of 15 (see photo).
I was the quiet student that only spoke when I absolutely had to. But by the end of the week long camp, that had all changed.
This summer camp not only teaches and informs students about the field of aviation, but also gives us the opportunity to learn about other careers, as well as life lessons.
With the amazing leaders we had (who are all pilots themselves) they strive to impact every student in some way to be able to continue the growth of their program.
I was also invited back to the Flight Academy as part of their Junior Staff, which led me to being a Mentor for the 5 years. I was able to help encourage and inspire students, especially young females who look a lot like me.
I also received a scholarship to the Natl Flight Academy in Pensacola which was something that I have never seen myself doing before then. I am proud to say that this FREE experience has changed me for the better because who would have thought that I would have gained great mentors that have become family.
I am now 23 years old (in 2020) and am two months away from graduating from illustrious Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) with a degree in Economics, focusing on Business Management and will very soon start classes to obtain my private pilot's license.
I would like to gave a huge "thank you" to all of the staff of the Gen Daniel Chappie James Flight Academy for the positive impact they have had and continue to have on the community of Pensacola.
The train of opportunity doesn't stop here, and with the expansion of this program, the best is yet to come!
Peer Mentor 2013
Jr Staff 2014 thru 2019
I was blessed to be able to attend the Gen Daniel Chappie James Flight Academy 3 times as a young boy. The skills learned and the classroom/hands-on instruction during my time inspired me to continue to explore my interest in the aviation industry.
I was able to pilot my very first airplane on graduation day at the camp, and that was an experience I would never forget. Had it not been for the leadership and unselfish attitudes of Capt Cliff Curtis as well as the other staff members, I may not have been as inspired to pursue the career in aviation I am able to enjoy today.
Now a licensed commercial pilot, that passion for flying was first cultivated during my weeks at the Flight Academy.
I've been fortunate enough to be able to give back, just as I was first given to. I was even able to fly airplanes down to Pensacola and perform graduation flights for the students in the Academy.
I have served as a staff member for many years while in the flight program attending Auburn University.
The Gen Daniel Chappie James Flight Academy has left a truly indelible mark on my life, and I will always be grateful for the experiences I was able to have there.
Joseph Young, Delta Air Lines
Specialist, Transatlantic Network Planning
Greetings from Tuskegee Alumni-Ville! I am Kendall Lee BSN, RN. As a young girl, I always knew I was destined to join the Tuskegee family from the moment I stepped foot on the campus. Around age 6, my favorite Uncle, Cliff Curtis, brought me along for my very first time to attend the Gen Daniel Chappie James Flight Summer Camp. It was such a great experience!
During the years I attended the flight camp, the way for my Tuskegee career was being paved, and for that I am forever grateful. My hope is that the Flight Academy program can continue for years to come for the future aviators & medical professionals.
I appreciate the Flight Academy Camp for introducing me the the greatest HBCU in the land. For that, I am forever indebted to the Gen Daniel Chappie James Flight Academy!