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Anya Kearns – breaking barriers in aviation

InternationalAnya Kearns - breaking barriers in aviation

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Tues. Sept. 19, 2023

Thirty-one-year-old African-American Anya Kearns has made history in being the first black female pilot to land a Delta Airline plane in Belize when she came this past Saturday, September 16 to pick up her mother, Angie Kearns, who was visiting in Belize, and escort her back home to Georgia in the US.

Anya has been making a mark for herself in the aviation industry, taking many by surprise for all her capabilities, determination and heart in becoming a pilot.

From nurturing a dream of world travel to becoming a renowned pilot, Anya Kearns’ journey in the world of aviation is nothing short of inspiring.

Introduced to flying at age 15 through the non-profit Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE) that educates minority youth, Anya’s passion was ignited. Her training with ACE paved the way to her involvement with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) and their summer academy, offering her an inside look at major aviation institutions like Delta Air Lines’ Headquarters and Dobbins Air Force Base.

At 17, after intense training at OBAP’s Atlanta Solo Flight Academy, Anya emerged as a promising student pilot, even earning the Charlie Tutt Award for Outstanding Achievement. Her commitment to aviation didn’t stop there.

Joining Middle Georgia State University’s Flight Training Program, Anya pursued a double major and became the institution’s first African American Female pilot graduate.

While financial challenges threatened her aviation dreams, Anya’s relentless determination saw her relocate 12 times in under two years to secure funding. Her mantra “try ONE MORE THING” became her guiding principle.

Achieving groundbreaking milestones, Anya became the first black female pilot at three of her past employers. By 24, she joined Endeavor Air, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, progressing from a First Officer to a Captain.

Her long-held dream materialized in March 2020 when she attained the Delta Air Lines pilot uniform. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted her path. Not discouraged, Anya ventured globally, accepting a Captain position in Hawaii with Ohana by Hawaiian, where she again broke barriers as their first black female Captain.

Understanding the value of diversity in aerospace, Anya continues to serve and inspire. She holds prestigious positions with ACE and OBAP and co-founded OBAP’s Explore Aerospace Program. Additionally, she remains active with several other notable organizations, ensuring the next generation of pilots has just as bright a future.

As of August 2022, she became Captain Anya Kearns at Delta Air Lines. She encourages everyone to pursue their dream no matter how challenging it may be. “Do what you love and the rest will come,” she said.

Upon landing in Belize this past Saturday, staff at the airport were impressed to see the first black female in the right seat, flying the plane.

Her mother, who was part of the crowd of passengers this Saturday, told us that although she had already flown with her daughter four times before, upon landing in Belize she was especially blown away by Anya as she came out to help passengers who needed help with wheelchairs.

“It’s the servant card that got me. To see that she was not in a rush to come inside because she wanted to make sure that everyone got what they needed. It blew my mind!” she expressed.

Notably, upon the time of our interview, Anya was preparing to fly out for Africa with her crew.

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