A new Black-owned flight school in Gwinnett County, Georgia, aims to create opportunities for aspiring minority pilots. 

Mike Ojo, pilot and owner of Lookup Flight Academy, shared with WSB-TV that he feels most at home when flying. However, there was a time when he thought the aviation field wasn’t welcoming to those who looked like him. 


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“I always thought it wasn’t for me because I never saw anyone who looked like me in a pilot uniform,” Ojo told the outlet. 

It will become the first school of its kind in Gwinnett County.

Despite the lack of diversity in the industry, Ojo became an accomplished pilot with more than 10 years of experience. He hopes to inspire the next generation of aspiring pilots with his company. 

Lookup Flight Academy will be located at the Gwinnett County Airport as commissioners approved a 25-year lease last week, per WSB-TV.  According to its website, Lookup is currently headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C. 

Based on the 2023 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, out of 211,000 commercial pilots working in the United States, 92.4% are white, with only 3.9% being Black.

Ojo emphasized the importance of recruiting minority aviators, acknowledging it as a priority. However, he also highlighted the challenge of doing so, attributing it primarily to financial barriers faced by many aspiring men and women.

“We have thousands of people on a list who can’t afford flight training,” Ojo said, per WSB-TV.

According to ATP, the nation’s largest flight school, it costs $108,995 to become a pilot without experience or $86,995 for those starting with a private pilot certificate. 

The Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, a nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities to minorities in all aviation and aerospace sectors, aims to recruit more minority men and women to lessen the industry’s labor shortage. 

“The airlines are hurting right now. Not just with minorities, but just in pilots in general,” Willie Billingslea, retired Naval pilot and member of the OBAP, told WSB-TV.

In March 2023, Democratic Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson introduced the Minorities in Aviation Act program. This initiative aims to establish “grants for increasing the exposure and access of students to the aviation industry, with a particular focus on women and minorities.” Although the bill is currently under review in Congress, it has not yet been approved.

Ojo is overjoyed about Lookup Flight Academy, which will open sometime this summer.