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16-Year-Old Cleveland Student Opts For Pilot’s License Before Driver’s License

16-Year-Old Cleveland Student Opts For Pilot’s License Before Driver’s License

Channeling the trailblazer, Bessie Coleman, 16-year-old Sydney-Marie Flowers is scheduled to receive her private pilot’s license this school year. She’ll be cleared to fly the friendly skies before she receives her driver’s license, reports WKYC. 

Flowers is a student at Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her student pilot certificate this summer and is now on track to get her license by the end of this school year. 

The high school student attended a local aviation camp where she received top honors. Flowers was then chosen to attend a national camp in Tuskegee, Alabama, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force. It was there, on the same field that the Tuskegee Airmen trained, that Flowers took her first solo flight. 

“They only pick 20 students out of the whole entire country. I just felt that it was a real accomplishment for me, and also a privilege to step on the same field the Tuskegee Airmen stepped on,” Flowers told WKYC. 

But the training was not without its fair share of challenges. Flowers said it was rigorous and she ran into some bumps during her final landing, but all in all, she did well and passed. Her mother, Marie-Lynn Ogletree said she shed a few tears watching her daughter take her final exam. 

“I am extremely proud of my daughter. She made goals and she’s pretty much aced every goal,” Ogletree said. 

Both mother and daughter said that none of this would be possible without Davis A&M High School and the nonprofit that helped launch the school, PHASTAR. The nonprofit partners with schools, government and other industries to provide maritime and aerospace experiences for high school students with the goal of “[arming] students and adults with the tools to break the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.” 

Flowers is now one of an elite and tiny group of Black women pilots. Blavity reports that “only 4.4% of airline transport pilots are women and only 2.7% are Black according to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.”

Congratulations Sydney-Marie! You’re flying high now!

Photo Courtesy of WKYC/Blavity