Leona Serao, a 23-year-old commercial pilot, is gearing up for an extraordinary journey this summer. She was born in the United States but raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She aims to make history by embarking on a three-month solo flight around the world. Departing from New York City, her ambitious itinerary spans 33 countries across four continents, Travel Noire tells us.
Following in her father’s footsteps, she decided to pursue a career in aviation after his passing. Although she initially wasn’t certain about flying, her time at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University solidified her passion and set her on the path to becoming a pilot. Serao is determined to shatter barriers and pave the way for change. “With my flight around the world, I want to pave the way for future generations, especially women and black women, to pursue their dreams without fear of failure and show them that anything is possible and address diversity and inclusion in aviation.”
What Inspired Her
The names of trailblazers such as Bessie Coleman, the first licensed Black female pilot in 1921, and Barrington Irving, the first Black pilot to fly around the world solo in 2007, serve as a constant source of motivation for Serao. Their accomplishments reinforce her belief in her capabilities and fuel her drive to succeed. Leona Serao’s upcoming solo flight around the world represents more than a personal milestone. It symbolizes a powerful step towards inclusivity and diversity in the aviation industry.
Through her journey, she aspires to inspire young women and aspiring pilots, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds. She wants to challenge the status quo and daring to dream big. Serao is rewriting the narrative of what is possible in the world of aviation. Just 2.6 percent of pilots in the U.S. are Black and less than one percent are Black women, so her upcoming journey is a big deal. She heads out in August.