She wants to raise awareness for diversity in aviation!
Leona Serao is only 23 but she’s taking on a historic feat that would impress even the veterans of her field. This August, she is preparing to become the first Black woman to fly solo around the world, Black Enterprise reports. Serao was born in the U.S. but raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the Congo, there are only 3 women out of 100 million who hold pilot licenses and it’s something Serao wants to change.
“It is a challenge because it’s a male dominated field and women didn’t really get the opportunity to be pilots before. We couldn’t even drive before [the 20th century]. And in the aviation industry, it stayed like that,” she explained.
Unfortunately, in the U.S., the numbers aren’t significantly better either. Of the 158,000 licensed pilots, only about 4,000 are Black and of those, only 150 are Black women. Numbers show that there have been around 142 completed solo flights across the globe. Only 11 of those solo missions have been taken by women and none of them have been Black.
“The fact that I’m going to be the first one, means I’m going to be able to inspire other Black and other African people who want to join the aviation field,” Serao told reporters.
Serao completed her training at a flight school in Florida. She studied aviation business administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and just recently became a licensed pilot at the end of 2020. Now she will take this historic journey, setting off from New York, and taking a three month flight that will bring her to 33 countries and 4 different continents. Serao is hoping her journey will raise awareness to the issue of diversity in the aviation field and inspire other young girls to follow in her footsteps.
When she completes the journey, Serao will become “the first African woman to fly solo around the world, the youngest African to fly solo around the world, the first Congolese to fly solo around the world,” the first pilot and the first woman to fly solo with the Ground Data Black Box Tempeus around the world.
She has already launched an online campaign to accept donations to cover food, fuel, and lodging during her around the world mission. To donate to Serao visit www.flynona.com.
We’ll be keeping you lifted up Leona. So excited for you!
Cover photo: 23-year-old prepares to become first Black woman to fly solo around the world/Photo Courtesy of Leona Serao/Yahoo! News