Moving Ahead And Reaching Back, Part 2

Detwiler graduation photo
L-r, Mya Coley, Calvin Frederick, Jasmine Frederick, Anthony Gilbert, Traye Jackson, Jarious Gordon and Operations Manager Tanya Austin at RedTail Flight Academy graduation.
Credit: RedTail Flight Academy

In Part 1, we checked in on three recent graduates of the RedTail Flight Academy.

One of the motivating factors to “get on top” is to reach down and help others up.

Jarius Gordon, a Florida Air National Guard chaplain assistant, looks back at the Tuskegee Airmen and remembers the help that he received through their auspices. As with most of these individuals, money became the obstacle to achieving their goals. I do believe, and I think Glen Fraser does also as I’ll later explain, that even though the RedTail program was an unbelievable boost for most of them, these youngsters would have found a way to keep moving toward their goals. I believe the RedTail Academy accelerated them on a path that they had chosen and already started down.

A Life Changing Experience

Detwiler photo
Jarious Gordon receives RFA diploma from Glen Fraser and Glenn Gonzales. Credit: RedTail Flight Academy

Jarius is now a commercial pilot and CFI with a multiengine rating. He is starting an internship at a major training center and hopes to get typed in a Falcon 900. Jarius says the program has “changed my life.”

Remember Mya Coley, the young woman from Chicago who had worked her way up to internships in a local corporate flight department? Last year, she was nearing the goal of achieving her commercial pilot license and CFI tickets. Like all these people, she had a lot of help, but also like all of them, she was determined to succeed in aviation.

Mya is no longer “slipping through the cracks” in her efforts to succeed in corporate aviation. She hit the ground running right after graduation from the RedTail program and started an internship with a large international corporate flight department based out of the New York City area. But she remains committed to the RedTail program as she had stated she would last year. At her “side job” at RedTails, she is an assistant to the program manager, developing coursework for all programs under the Lee A. Archer Jr. RedTail Youth Flying Program. In addition to that, she has still managed to “come back to the hangar” as a part-time flight instructor at RedTails.

Drawn To Aviation 

Detwiler photo
Jasmine Fredericks is working toward her CFI rating. Credit: RedTail Flight Academy

Jasmine Fredericks loved science and was headed toward being a doctor when she got the aviation “bug.” As I said before, the Fredericks family was very close, and Jasmine had heard of the financial hurdles her brother was facing in his efforts. She considered that if her brother was having problems and the family was having problems with financing his dreams, it would be more difficult to afford two aspiring aviators. Jasmine graduated from RedTail Flight Academy and worked as an intern in crew scheduling, flight coordination and aircraft scheduling for a major FAR Part 135 carrier in the Northeast. She is heading for her second such job in the same type of operation and is getting ready for her CFI and II ratings.

It's Come A Long Way

Detwiler photo
Lt. Col. Enoch Woodhouse and 1Lt. Herbert Thorpe. Credit: RedTail Flight Academy

I knew about Glen and the RedTail program back in the early 2000s. Initially, I was, as a retired fighter pilot, in awe of what the Tuskegee Airmen had accomplished so many years ago. I’ve come to find out that those men passed on to succeeding generations the desire to help young Black Americans become pilots. I know those people also passed it on because of the age of many of the Tuskegee Airmen who helped these young RedTail people on their way. As I look over the paths that these folks are on, I see that same desire to reach back and help others who are coming along behind them. One of the motivating factors to “get on top” is to reach down and help others up.

As I said earlier, changes are coming. So remarkably have they succeeded that the Flight Academy is changing its plans slightly as it moves forward. Instead of helping a few aspirants with nearly everything they could ask for, the “Full Monty” if you will, the leadership has come to realize they can help far more students with just a little less individual attention. With the drive and initiative that they’ve shown, the only result of this will be more people receiving help. More will succeed.

In closing, one of the graduates thanked me profusely for “raising awareness in your community.” It was stated with the utmost gratitude and respect, but it does show we’re still working. We’re not there yet. Like the C5 crew in the early paragraphs, the more we do it, the less of a “feature event” it will become. That will be a good thing.

Moving Ahead And Reaching Back, Part 1:…

Ross Detwiler

Ross Detwiler was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and corporate chief pilot—flying a Dassault Falcon 7X before retiring. He also was as member of the…