George Anyanwu was just five when he discovered his love of aviation. He spotted a plane in the sky, and today, his curiosity about that aircraft has led him halfway around the world from his hometown in Mbaise, Nigera.
After high school, he applied to the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, the first air training institute in Nigeria, and was one of two candidates from his home state selected to attend the institution. There he completed three years of training, but he was forced to look elsewhere to earn his license due to a shortage of fuel and other resources in Nigeria.
He moved to California and enrolled in a local flight school where he earned his commercial pilot license. However, even with his training complete and his license in hand, he struggled to find employment while his classmates' careers were taking off.
“The majority of my classmates were white, and they had access to people, resources and opportunities that I didn’t have,” said Anyanwu. “I even looked for jobs that allowed me to fly passengers and supplies free of charge, but I couldn’t even get those opportunities. After years of trying to secure a job, I moved back to Nigeria and immediately received a job opportunity with Dornier Aviation.”
For nearly four decades, George has enjoyed the thrill of flying, now a principal engineer, today he flies for fun in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with the Collins Aerospace Employee Flying Club. This summer, he’ll pass his love of flying to his two teenage daughters when he invites them to be his co-pilots for the first time.
The legacy continues
In honor of the enduring legacy of the Black aviators who blazed a trail through the sky, we’re delighted to celebrate those who dare to be next and continue the legacy of Black history.