Photo credits: Facebook/R.E.P U NYC
An entrepreneur and non-profit owner who also happens to be a licensed pilot is opening doors for black children to fly the friendly skies.
Raymond Smith (pictured right) is the founder of R.E.P (Redefining, Empowering and Preparing) U NYC, a non-profit organization based in New York City, which is geared toward providing free educational services for under-served children from impoverished communities.
Smith’s organizations provides educational training for black children so they can be more proficient in computer coding, photography, and much more. R.E.P. U NYC is all about helping children tap into the gifts they are passionate about for the purpose of helping them economically thrive off of those gifts.
“I liked taking the coding class. I love computer technology and now I know how to create my own front end website,” reads a quote on Smith’s official website by a 16-year-old program participant named Kiara Jordan.
However, after overcoming his own fears, Smith is now using his spare time to help black children reach heights of a different kind; more so in the literal sense.
According to Black Enterprise Magazine, Smith is using his commercial pilot’s license and unfettered access to small single-engine airplanes to give flight lessons to children. Ironically, Smith used to suffer from aviophobia, which is the medical term for the fear of flying.
Now he helps children overcome their fears of the sky straight from the cockpit.
“After getting over my fear of flying and seeing pilots at work, I thought to myself ‘I can do this!’ I asked some of the pilots what should my first steps to becoming a pilot be,”‘ Smith told Black Enterprise.
“They said go on a discovery flight and get used to being in a small airplane. I went on two discovery flights and the first time I was scared sh*tless. But through it all, I started the process of looking for flight schools to start training,” he continued.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway to make sure that this flight training gift for black children remains free of charge.
“We are currently fundraising to buy an aircraft to offset our operating expenses to ensure that our flight program will remain free for kids. We are also selling sponsorship packages for organizations to sponsor flying hours for the youth,” Smith added.
Visit Smith’s official R.EP. U NYC website here.