Twenty-three-year-old Leona Serao is flying high and hopes to continue to do so after announcing she plans on becoming the first Black woman to fly around the world solo.
This summer, Serao will officially hop onboard and embark on her international trip beginning in New York. She then plans to fly across four continents and 33 countries.
Born in the United States but raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Serao will be representing her Congolese heritage in a big way, considering that the country only has a recorded three women pilots.
Serao’s inspiration to become a pilot began with her father who was also an aviator. After his timely passing, she said she became motivated to become a pilot herself, according to her website. She would go on to study Aviation Business Administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and was awarded her license in 2020. Her plan is to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo once she completes her worldwide trip.
Serao aims is to inspire other Congolese women to consider working in aviation, a male-dominated industry both in Africa and around the world. Yahoo News reported that “11 women out of 142 pilots embarked on solo trips across the world. However, none of these pilots were Black women. And of the 158,000 licensed pilots in America, only 150 are Black females.”
These numbers mean Black women represent less than one percent of pilots worldwide. Serao hopes to change this narrative by embarking on this trip.
“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,” she wrote on her website.
Follow Serao’s journey on her Instagram page here.
Good luck, Leona!