SUCCESS STORIES Bakari Gaiters

The Jet Engine Lullaby

by Bakari Gaiters

Becoming a pilot is an unusual aspiration for a kid hailing from a neighborhood like the one I grew up in. I was raised in Atlanta only ten minutes from one of the busiest airports in the country. My childhood memories are sprinkled throughout with the smell of gas and the whirring sound of planes overhead. The low growl of a jet engine was my childhood lullaby at night. I woke to the sound of titanium beasts lifting into the sky every morning and watched as they disappeared into pink horizons in the evenings. To this day those sounds and smells leave me in awe and wonder. They’re a constant reminder of the path I’m on right now–the path to piloting my own plane.

I’m currently a junior aerospace engineer at Tuskegee University with the goal of working as an aerospace engineer after graduation and one day earning my airline transport pilot certification. I’m a member of the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) and the National Society of Success and Leadership (NSLS). I’m also currently the secretary for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and have made honor roll for every semester of my tenure here.

My involvement in these prestigious institutions and societies is not just another resume builder–it is a reflection of the dedication and diligence it takes to carry on the Tuskegee legacy. It is for this very reason that I could also see myself joining the airforce as a fighter pilot one day. I have been touched by the stories of the men and women who came before me in the name of patriotism, professionalism, and courage.

I have the Red Tails Foundation to thank for giving me–an unlikely candidate–the chance to pursue his passion. I’m no longer that kid on the pavement, staring up into the vast sky–I’m the man behind the throttle, the man whose dream is becoming a reality.