Congressmen Cohen Questions Experts on the Need for Diversity in the Aviation Workforce

July 20, 2021
Press Release
Recalls Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. as a “true aviation pioneer”
WASHINGTON – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), a senior member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Aviation Subcommittee, today questioned expert witnesses at a hearing on “Bridging the Gap: Improving Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Aviation Workforce.” Congressman Cohen noted that fewer than 5 percent of pilots are women, just 3.4 percent are Black, and fewer than one-half of one percent of pilots are Black women. “These discrepancies are staggering,” he said. Congressman Cohen also asked the Chairman of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, which operates the Lt. Col. Luke Weathers Jr. Flight Academy in Olive Branch, Mississippi, about its importance in producing Black pilots from Memphis-area schools. Congressman Cohen noted that the academy is named for Weathers, a member of the celebrated Tuskegee Airmen and the first African American air traffic controller at Memphis International Airport, who is honored with a plaque at the Memphis International Airport and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. See Congressman Cohen’s entire line of questioning here. Witnesses at today’s hearing were: • Rebecca Lutte, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha Aviation Institute; • Ms. Claudia Zapata-Cardone, Executive Director of Community Relations and Outreach, Latino Pilots Association; • Ms. Icema D. Gibbs, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, JetBlue Airways; • Mr. Joel Webley, Chairman, Board of Directors, Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals; and • Mr. Kyle J. Kaiser, President, VIPER Transitions. ###