Teen makes history as youngest African American pilot in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KOAT) – A teenager from New Mexico has become the state’s youngest pilot and the youngest African American in the state to earn his wings.
Gabriel Carothers, 17, is no stranger to flying high as aviation sparked his interest early in life.
“My father had a family friend who had an airplane that used to fly us,” Carothers explained. “So, he thought it’d definitely be interesting to take me and my brother up for a flight when we were 5 and 6 years old.”
Carothers designed and built his first flight simulator when he was 14.
“I had to do research on what went into a computer and then what parts and components were needed to make sure it worked,” he said. “Learning all the intricate pieces of it, the programming of it in the simulator itself was another thing.”
Carothers is now the youngest pilot in New Mexico history after completing his private pilot check ride just 10 days after his 17th birthday.
“I wasn’t really thinking about making history, I was just thinking about flying and doing what I like to do every day,” Carothers said.
Since then, he’s been soaring to heights far and beyond, paving the way for those behind him as a member of the General Lloyd “Fig” Newton local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, a nonprofit organization named after the first African American pilot in the United States.
“Leaving a trail behind and leaving a path for other kids to follow really lightens up my heart, and to make sure that they have a future no matter what they do,” Carothers said.
The teen said he wants to learn to fly vintage aircraft next and participate in airshows, then head to the Air Force Academy.
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