All of his hard work led to this historic moment!
Gabriel Carothers just earned his wings and made history in the process. The 17-year-old Albuquerque native grew up with a passion for aviation. “My father had a family friend who had an airplane that used to fly us. 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,” explained Carothers.
When he was 14, he designed and built his own flight simulator! Today, he's a member of the General Lloyd “Fig” Newton local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, a nonprofit's chapter named after the first Black pilot in the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, which has had a tremendous impact on the teenagers' aviation success. “The Tuskegee Airmen have always been in my life. My father was a part of it. We help with events for them. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here where I am today. They paved the path for me to be able to fly the same way I'm doing for other people," he told KOAT.
He recently finished his private pilot check ride and is now the youngest pilot taking flight in New Mexico, but the 17-year-old says he never intended to make history. “I was just thinking about flying and doing what I like to do every day,” said Carothers. However, he's grateful for embarking on this feat during Black History Month, telling Live5News, “Leaving a trail behind and leaving a path for other kids to follow really lightens up my heart."
His father, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, helped guide him every step of the way. The young pilot has plans of learning to fly vintage aircraft and eventually follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the Air Force.
We love to see young people follow their passion and become an inspiration for the younger dreamers behind them. Continue to soar, Gabriel!
Photo: Alex Carothers