Anyadike learned to fly at age 12 through the Compton-based Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, which offers aviation lessons in an after-school program for disadvantaged youths, the Los Angeles Times reported. It was their plane that she flew on her cross-country trip.
“I told her it was going to be a daunting task, but she just said, ‘Put it on. I got big shoulders,’” Petgrave said.
Along for the historic ride were an adult safety pilot and 87-year-old Levi Thornhill, one of the Tuskeegee Airmen during World War II.
“They left such a great legacy,” Anyadike said of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ all-black combat unit. “I had big shoes to fill. … All they wanted to do was to be patriots for this country. They were told no, that they were stupid, that they didn’t have cognitive development to fly planes. They didn’t listen. They just did what they wanted to do.”
About 50 Tuskeegee Airmen autographed the young pilot’s plane during her journey, the Times reported.
“I wanted to inspire other kids to really believe in themselves,” Anyadike said.