Gwinnett County

First Black-owned flight school in Gwinnett Co. making history amid push for more minority pilots

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The first Black-owned flight school in Gwinnett County is making history amid the national push to recruit more minority pilots.

Mike Ojo, the owner of the flight school, feels at home when he’s in the sky.

Early on, he didn’t always know if he would be welcome.

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“I always thought it wasn’t for me because I never saw anyone who looked like me in a pilot uniform,” Ojo told Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson.

Ten years later, he’s an accomplished pilot inspiring the next wave of aviators as the owner of Gwinnett County’s first Black-owned flight school.

Ojo is bringing Look Up Flight Academy to the Gwinnett County airport after commissioners approved a 25-year lease last week.

He said recruiting minorities is a priority, but it’s not always easy.

“We have thousands of people on a list who can’t afford flight training,” Ojo said.

Retired Naval pilot Willie Billingslea said it costs between $80,000 and $100,000 to become a commercial pilot.

Billingslea is with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and said recruiting more people of color will help an industry-wide labor shortage.

“The airlines are hurting right now. Not just with minorities, but just in pilots in general,” Billingslea said.

That’s why Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson has been pushing for new legislation for years.

“There have been systemic barriers,” Johnson said.

He said the Minorities in Aviation Act is pending in Congress and creates a grant program to help pay for aviation education.


“This grant program will help offset the cost for those looking to get the training so that they can enter the field,” Johnson said.

Ojo said he’s excited to hit the ground running and share his love of being in the air.

“Once you get in and start flying, you’re hooked,” Ojo said.

He has a location in North Carolina and is expanding to Gwinnett County and planning to rehabilitate the building and open the doors by the summer.

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