Kimberly Anyadike was born in 1994 and raised in Compton, California. Anyadike learned to fly at age 12 through a Compton-based organization called Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, which offers aviation lessons in an after-school program for disadvantaged youths. On June 29, 2009, Anyadike departed from Compton, California with Tuskegee Airman Levi Thornhill and Safety pilot Ronell Norman, headed for Newport News, Virginia. When she landed from her 13-day journey, Anyadike became the youngest black female to pilot across the country.
Anyadike’s plans are to continue flying privately, and she also has her sights set on becoming a cardiovascular surgeon. Her flight was a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, and 50 of them even signed her airplane along the way. “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.”