On her sixteenth birthday in 2008, Kelly Anyadike became a record-breaking aviator when she flew four different airplanes out of the Compton Airport and into the Southern California skies. After training with Tuskegee airmen and taking aeronautical classes for two years, the young pilot climbed into the cockpit of a Cessna 172, a four-seat, single-engine fixed-wing airplane, and soared 1,500 feet into the air, adding her name to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Her mother had heard about the opportunity for young students to learn how to fly aircraft in their local newspaper. Inspired by the story of a young boy who broke a similar record, the then 14-year-old Anyadike enrolled in a flight preparatory program through Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum (TAM).
In exchange for flight time and college scholarships, students ages 8 to 18 can volunteer within this organization created to help aspiring young pilots achieve their aviation dreams as an alternative to drugs, violence and other self-destructive behaviors. TAM offered Anyadike and other participants the chance to work with qualified academic tutors, mentors and aviation staff five days a week.
“We would go up in the plane and we would go over maneuvers, practice landings and practice take-offs,” she said.
To accomplish her goal of piloting a plane alone, she needed to have 40 hours of in-flight demo practice. By the time she was able to break the Guinness world record, Anyadike had spent 70 hours perfecting her tactics in the air with a supervisor.
The young aviator said the hardest part of navigating is landing smoothly every time. “My instructor would always say, ‘You can choose to take off, but landing is mandatory,’” she remembered, laughing.
The last aircraft she piloted on the day of her record-breaking achievement, a small, light-sport airplane, weighed much less than the other models she had regularly practiced with and it proved particularly sensitive to shifting movements.
“You have to take the wind into consideration and you have to do very tiny corrections because the plane is so light.”
Last year, as a freshman at Biola, she soloed another flight to Santa Barbara from Compton.
Anyadike is majoring in intercultural studies at Biola and does not see herself becoming a professional pilot in the future. However, she wants to continue flying as a hobby and someday would love to purchase her own airplane.
The talent and passion for aviation runs in her family. In 2009, her sister, Kimberly Anyadike, also made history when she flew across the country and back at only 16 years old.
The pair of inspiring young aviator sisters believe they could not have accomplished these feats without their faith in God. They dedicated their remarkable achievements to the Tuskegee airmen who made the two realize the sky is not the limit for what they can do.
Written by Jessica Airey, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, at 562.777.4061 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.