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New York’s Youngest Certified Pilot Is An 18-Year-Old Black Girl From Queens

An 18-year-old from the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens is the youngest Black female certified pilot in the Big Apple.

Ariel Messam took to social media earlier this month to proudly announce that she’s the youngest woman of color to be a certified private pilot in New York.

“Finally got my Private Pilot’s license. Youngest black female in New York to do it too!” she wrote.

“I’m so grateful for those who made it possible. God is so good. I took my first flight at 14 years old and couple years and financial breaks later, I made it official.”


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A post shared by Ariel Messam (@flyingwithariel)

The accomplishment comes a little over a year after Messam graduated from Aviation Career & Technical Education High School. At the same time she earned her certification as an Aircraft Powerplant Technician and played varsity basketball, Black News reports.

After graduation, Messam joined the New York-based 501(c)3 organization Level Up and Take Off as a flight simulation instructor. The nonprofit was started by her brother Anthony Messam to promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in aviation, real estate, and financial management.

She often flies out of Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York, and enjoys sharing highlights from her flying adventures on social media. Shortly after announcing her pilot certification, Messam shared a few photos from her travels to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


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A post shared by Ariel Messam (@flyingwithariel)

In addition to working as an instructor at Level Up and Take Off, Messam is an ambassador with Girls Love to Fly. She announced her partnership with the organization last month.

“Girls Love to Fly is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit with one mission in mind, to empower women from all walks of life!” she explained. “Their mission is to help women who are interested in becoming aviators through many different ways, including offering scholarship opportunities continuously as well as discovery flights!”

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