The Tuskegee Airmen made history fighting in World War II, and those legendary Black pilots inspired generations to follow.
United Airlines Capt. Kyle Whitaker says his dad raised his family in Tuskegee, Alabama.
"He allowed me to go to a two-week summer camp as a teenager and that’s kind of where I got the bug to become an airline pilot," Whitaker said.
United Airlines Capt. David Simpson says his dad was also his inspiration.
"He worked for an airline for 27 years," Simpson said. "I took my first airline ride when I was about three months old, and I always said I wanted to be an airline pilot."
These pilots were part of a group of six students who attended the historically Black Hampton University back in the late 1990s. They took flight training together.
"We became a family," Simpson said. "We pushed each other. We motivated each other. We mentored each other."
Now they mentor others. Only about 3.5% of commercial airline pilots are Black. United Airlines is seeking more to add more diversity. The airline is encouraging these pilots to share their stories with high school students in communities of color.
"When you get your opportunity, make sure you’re ready," Whitaker said. "It's the best job in the world. I wouldn't rather do anything else. I love it."
"My family is extremely proud of me. They tell me that all the time," Simpson said.
They reached for the sky and want others to follow by letting their dreams take flight.
"I tell young minorities as I see them: Dream it," Simpson said. "Make it happen."
Both pilots say it's a career that takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice. They say their families play a huge part in their success.