Sunday, July 12, 2009

15-year-old pilot makes history

15-year-old pilot makes

Updated: Monday, 06 Jul 2009, 10:47 AM EDT
Published : Sunday, 05 Jul 2009, 1:55 PM EDT

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Flights land in Newport News everyday, but not many are piloted by 15-year-olds.

"It was so good, really fun and once I got over the Atlantic, I was like 'oh my gosh, I really did it,' so I was really excited," said Kimberly Anyadike.

What Kimberly Anyadike did was make history. She piloted a single engine red-tail airplane from Compton, California to Newport News, Virginia. She'll make the entire roundtrip in 10 days.

"It was just something that sparked my interest and a lot of times when something sparks my interest I go for it," said Anyadike.

"Wow, beautiful, she did great," said Tuskegee Airman, Levi Thornhill.

The flight was a tribute to Tuskegee Airmen like Thornhill. Thornhill, a World War II pilot, flew with Anyadike. The plane is named in his honor and autographed by other living Tuskegee Airmen.

Thornhill says there were skeptics along the way. "They look at her and say how can she do that? Well they don't know her, they don't know the motivation she has to succeed," said Thornhill.

Flying is a family affair for Anyadike. Kimberly's sister, Kelly, also set a world record last year. Kimberly says there is some sibling rivalry. "You know it was, of course, we're always so competitive with each other but it's good...the higher you get," said Anyadike.

The flight's are sponsored by Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum , which provides after school training for aspiring young pilots.

"It becomes natural for them to get in the plane and take off," said Otis Hooper, Tuskegee Youth Program Chairman.

"She's gonna go on to do anything she wants to do," said Thornhill.

Not surprisingly this 15-year-old history maker has plans. "I want to become a private pilot but as a career I want to become a cardiovascular surgeon," said Anyadike.

For now, she's focused on her flight back home.

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