Photo: Georgia Air National Guard
1st Lt. Andrea Lewis believes flying is what she was "meant to do."
As a matter of fact, aviation runs in Lewis' family. Her mother is a commercial airline flight attendant and her father was a Marine Corps and commercial pilot. When her dad passed away in 2010, Lewis shifted gears and decided to pursue a career as a pilot.
“After my father passed away, I knew it was time for me to take the steps needed to become a pilot and realize my dreams,” Air Force Times reports Lewis saying. "I know it would have made my father proud.”
Lewis, a University of Georgia graduate, joined the Air Force as a reservist in January 2010, serving as an Air Force flight attendant. The following year, in 2011, she was hired as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines. Then in 2014, she was accepted into the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Wing. Lewis officially became the first Black woman pilot in the Georgia National Guard when she completed pilot training in April 2017.
She has now been flying the Joint STARS E-8C for two years. The Atlanta Journal Constitution explains that the aircraft is "a Boeing 707 frame outfitted with a radar and surveillance systems to take pictures of the ground and feed the images back to command centers."
The 31-year-old is set to make history once again - this time as the first Black woman to deploy as part of the Georgia Air National Guard. While Lewis will remain a full-time flight attendant, she will take a temporary leave of absence during her deployment in Southwest Asia. However, she hopes to work full-time at Joint STARS and later become a commercial pilot.
Inspired by both Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license, and Stephanie Johnson, Delta’s first Black woman captain, Lewis said, "I’m just honored to be thought of in the same light. They were definitely trailblazers for me. So, I hope (people) see me in the same light."
Lt. Lewis, now you've blazed a trail for the next generation of Black women pilots. We're wishing you a safe deployment and return home.