In a day and age where tensions are often frayed between police and the people they serve and protect, three of New York Police Department’s finest – Officers Winston Faison, Cletodell Titus and Milton Davis – are showing through example that building young black lives matter as well.
The three African-American police officers are licensed pilots, and they started a nonprofit Young Airmans Association with the goal of teaching innercity youth to fly.
And yesterday, they along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brownsville, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, East Flatbush), showed off the first fruits of their labor at the NYPD Aviation Unit at Floyd Bennett Field in Marine Park – nine children, two girls and seven boys ages 14-16 who are learning to fly.
“The sky is the limit for these budding young pilots, and we need to support their endeavors as they soar to even greater heights,” said Brooklyn Borough President Adams, who along with Ampry-Samuel allocated $20,000 to United Youth Aviators, the city’s first-ever aviation summer camp, which the three cops started. “We want to especially thank the Young Airmans Association, who are dedicating their own vacation time to teaching our youth how to fly.”
Also kicking $10,000 into the program was Bed-Stuy entrepreneur Beatrice Jones, owner of Good Samaritan Day Care Center and Honey Baked Ham and Cafe.
The camp was set up to expose youth to the world of aviation, teaching them STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills while also enabling them to fly a Cessna 172 Skyhawk and log flight time to go toward their own pilot licenses.
The future young pilots will log 12 hours of flight time and 70 hours of instruction time during the six-week program, and will come back next summer as well as pilots need 40 hours of flight time to get their private license.
Adams also noted that the country has been losing many pilots to retirement, and learning to fly offers a great and much-needed opportunity to students of color. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 92 percent of America’s professional pilots and flight engineers are Caucasian and 91 percent are male.
“We want to build a pipeline for new pilots. These are the jobs of the future,” said Adams noting
Ampry-Samuel said when the police officers first came into her district office and told her about the program, she immediately came on board.
“We always tell our young people to reach for the stars and the sky’s the limit, and with this program, they are literally in the sky,” said Ampry-Samuel. “So it’s no longer sky’s the limit, because they’re literally navigating through the sky.”