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Teenage pilot returns home


A teenage Compton pilot arrived home in Southern California this week, capping a flight around the nation in preparation for what he hopes will be a record-setting around-the-world trip.

Isaiah Cooper, 16, touched down at Compton airport after a roughly two-week flight around the country.

“It’s awesome. It’s exciting, you know, to see all these people here in the community that I didn’t know come and support me,” he told Fox11. “It really brings a warm place in my heart.”

Isaiah’s 8,000-mile, roughly two-week trip around the country was not without difficulty. Bad weather forced him to make a hard landing that heavily damaged his original plane in Wyoming.

“We had a microburst, which is basically Mother Nature taking us from the air to the ground, and I had to do a hard crash landing,” he told Channel 11.

He said he brought the plane down, missing “two schools, three restaurants, a construction site and apartments” and then slid for two blocks.

The trip made him the youngest Black pilot to fly around the country, according to flight organizers. He had a flight instructor with him on the trip.

But Isaiah has a much larger goal. He hopes next year to become the youngest Black pilot to fly around the world solo. He will be 18 when he takes off on the planned flight.

The Guinness World Record is held by Matt Guthmiller of South Dakota, who was 19 when he circumnavigated the globe on his own in 2014, ending his voyage at Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

On a GoFundMe page, Isaiah wrote that he began attending the youth aviation program at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton when he was 5, but he dropped out when he began hanging out “with the wrong crowd” and doing “seriously self-destructive things.”

“My grade-point average dropped to 0.8,” he wrote. “Realizing that this was not how I wanted to live my life, I returned to TAM, refocusing my efforts in school and dedicating my life to becoming a pilot. I raised my GPA to 3.7.”

He said he hopes his attempt to break a world record will inspire other kids to turn their lives around and work to achieve their goals.