Tuskegee NEXT has received a $25,000 grant from American Airlines to continue to help build the next generation of pilots. Below, you can enjoy an excerpt from American's article telling the story--and you can read the whole story here.

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Nia Allen has always thought that planes are cool.

But she didn’t always know much about them or aerospace in general. She even remembers being scared walking aboard flights when she was younger. “At that time, I didn’t think women could even be pilots,” she said. But when she was 8 years old, she met a female first officer and the wheels starting turning. “I remember thinking, ‘We can do that?’ But then I was like, if she’s a co-pilot, then I want to be the pilot.”

Now every time a plane passes above her, Nia instinctually looks to the sky. She wants to see the direction it is going, estimate its speed, even identify what type of aircraft it is from tell-tale markings. She knows more about aviation than your average high school graduate.

She started flying planes herself when she was 14 years old, and through hard work taking college classes in high school, she’ll begin her college career at Middle Tennessee State University this fall as a sophomore in the school’s aerospace program while continuing to fly and work toward becoming a commercial airline pilot.

As Nia will tell you, aviation is not easy, but it is a passion for aspiring pilots. And outreach programs like Chicagoland-based Tuskegee NEXT are working to show at-risk youth that becoming a pilot is more accessible than they might think.

Indeed, flight schools across the country play a key role in this effort in their respective communities. American Airlines launched its Flight School Grant Program in March with the goal of generating a renewed interest in aviation, an important effort for the future of the airline industry.

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