This discussion includes the views of three airline pilots/cofounders of the Sisters of the Skies a.k.a. Black Butterflies Facebook page: Stephanie Mitchell-Smith Gulley, Kim McCommon & Tomica Adams. Most members of this group are also affiliated with the OBAP-Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals; Tuskegee Airmen International; and the Bessie Coleman Aerospace Legacy. The group was established to give female aviators of color--including African Americans, Latinos, Hispanics, Indian, etc.--a place to share accomplishments, vent frustrations and generally unite those who make up a very small slice of the pilot demographic pie. While they reach back to honor those who helped to pave the way for them, so do they strive to pay-it-forward by offering encouragement to those who follow.
As a foster child, Melany Rosales had little hope of finding wherewithal for a higher education. A high-school aviation program and one dedicated mentor changed all of that for her. And Melany didn't forget it. As co-founder of Beacon For Teens (www.beacon14s.org) in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Melany now pays it forward by exposing low-income, at-risk foster children to the world of aviation. When funding for the organization was tight, Melany partnered with Daniel Valladares' Aviation Life Clothing (www.aviationlifeclothing.com) and helped grow it into a funding vehicle for Beacon For Teens.