by Jess Clackum
When he was just five years old, Kenyatta Ruffin dreamed of flying and becoming an astronaut. He began flying at 13, and later, with the encouragement and support of the people around him, he attended the United States Air Force Academy. There, he excelled, earning a degree in Aeronautical Engineering with a minor in Military Strategic Studies. The young boy with a dream eventually became a highly decorated pilot with over 2,500 hours flying the F-16C/C+/CJ/CM, MC-12W, T-38C, and T-6A.
Thankful for the opportunities he had as a young man, which helped him achieve his dream, and fueled by the desire to invest in America's young people, Major Ruffin founded the non-profit organization Legacy Flight Academy (LFA). LFA's mission is to uphold and sustain the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by providing minority youth with flight training and mentorship in preparation for a career in aviation through military service. LFA has conducted two summer character development and flight training programs at historic Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, providing a life-changing experience for 30 students and reaching hundreds more through their other programs.
Major Ruffin's work with the Legacy Flight Academy earned him well-deserved recognition during the Shine a Light segment at the 2016 BET Awards. Shine a Light recognizes individuals who have made substantial contributions to the African American community.
Major Ruffin tells us he was inspired by the courage and discipline of the many groundbreaking men and women in aviation like the Tuskegee Airmen and the WASP:
“The Legacy of both the Tuskegee Airmen and WASP are truly inspirational to men and women alike, to those who are a minority and those who are in the majority, for the young and old, for people anywhere and everywhere. Their story is a human story about courage and commitment, about adversity and perseverance, about excellence and sacrifice. In short, their legacy is part of what made America great and is what will keep her great. I truly hope that the upcoming generation will look to these men and women as the role models and heroes that they are, and that we would all appreciate and honor their heritage.”
We appreciate and honor Major Ruffin's service to this nation and his positive influence as a role model for America's youth!