Minority Pilot Advancement
“MOST INNER-CITY KIDS HAVE NEVER BEEN EXPOSED TO WHAT IS REALLY OUT THERE FOR THEM. I WOULD BET IF YOU ASK A HUNDRED KIDS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL OR HIGH SCHOOL IF THEY THINK THEY COULD BECOME AN AIRLINE PILOT, THE ANSWER WOULD BE ZERO!”
– Ron Kelly, Founder of Minority Pilot Advancement Foundation
Ron Kelly, Founder of Minority Pilot Advancement Foundation
My name is Ron Kelly. Since I was a kid I have always been intrigued by aviation. I grew up during the space race and all I ever wanted to be was an astronaut.
My father had a curious mind and a love for reading. He was an electrical engineer, space craft designer and champion for Fair Housing. He taught me that anything is possible. You just had to put your mind to it.
In 1969 my father took me to the Point Magu air show to see the Blue Angels fly for the first time. At this airshow they had a glider demonstration team. I was totally intrigued by this plane without an engine that was able to do loops and rolls. That was it! I knew I wanted to fly. I found out that you could get a license to fly gliders at 14. And that’s exactly what I did. I went out and got my glider rating when I was 14.
I then proceeded to get my power rating at 16. When get your power rating you had to get a flight medical exam. Much to my surprise during the exam, I discovered that I was slightly color blind. At that moment my dreams of becoming an astronaut or even an airline pilot was dead. Not to be defeated, I set a goal for myself, to make enough money to own and fly my own Lear Jet, which was the ultimate private travel at that time. I did one better; I got a Gulfstream.
The bottom line is I know the only difference between myself, and most minority kids, is that I had a dad who taught me that anything is possible. Most minority kids have never been exposed to big thinkers and have no idea what is really possible for them. I will bet if you ask a hundred kids in middle school or high school if they think they could become an airline pilot the answer would be zero!
Most kids that come from lower socio-economic areas go to school because they have to. Very few of them actually believe that it will lead to something great in their lives. I believe we can open their eyes to the fact that graduating from high school can and will lead to a fantastic life. That an exciting career in aviation will provide them with a great paying job. We will help them get there. I believe this will motivate more kids to pay attention in school and they will see that they have alternative pathways to a rewarding future through a career in aviation
My passion in life has been helping kids reach their potential. I loved doing it as a basketball coach, a professional coach to real estate agents and as a mentor to others. I can’t think of anything I would rather do than getting young people of color involved in aviation. I know this can and will lead to generational change for entire families.
My Inspiration Comes From My Father, Ken Kelly
My father was an aerospace engineer who was raised by a single mother who according to my dad really should have never had kids. He was a latch key kid who did have a curious mind and loved to read. Once he wanted to make an electric battery he had read about in a magazine, so he went to the Pharmacy and got a gallon of acid (this was the 1930s) and made a battery. His story is interesting, if you would like to know more watch the video above. But the bottom line is my dad, who was an electrical engineer, a space craft designer, as well as a champion for Fair Housing and more, taught me that anything is possible, you just have to put your mind to it.