Women Empowerment: All-female crew lands commercial airplane in Belize

Tuesday, September 26th, 2023

For the first time, a Delta Airlines commercial jet touched down at the Philip Goldson International Airport (PGIA), operated by an all-female crew. The captain in charge of the flight was African American Anya Kearns, 31, who made history by being the first black female pilot to land an international commercial aircraft in Belize.

Anya Kearns

The flight took place on September 16th, one of the busiest days at the PGIA. Kearns’ mother, Angela Kearns, had been visiting San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, before this flight and was more than proud to share that her daughter was landing a commercial jet in Belize. Angela was also part of the historic flight as she flew back home to Georgia, USA, on the same flight captained by her daughter.

Anya shared that her mother started her in aviation at 15 years of age in a program called Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE), a non-profit flight school that educates minority youth. Angela said this program starts teaching the child about this field as early as 11. Anya’s experience in this program paved the way for her love of aviation. She attended ACE on Saturday mornings until she graduated from the program in 2009. Through this non-profit aviation school, she was introduced to the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), offering Anya an inside look at significant aviation institutions like Delta Airlines and Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
Anya first became a pilot for Endeavor Airlines, which offers flights within the United States. Despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, she kept flying, accepting a captain position in Hawaii with Ohana Airlines, where she broke records for being the first black female captain. As the pandemic winded down, in August 2022, Anya became Captain at Delta Airlines. “I encourage everyone to pursue their dream no matter how challenging it may be,” she shared. “Do what you love, and rest will come.”  Young Belizean women are encouraged to overcome all the obstacles they may face and stay focused on their goals.
While financing flight classes was a deterrent, Anya’s creativity allowed her to discover different options to pay for her flight hours. Some of the obstacles Anya had to overcome required shifts and unexpected changes. In two years, she had moved to 12 different locations to accomplish duties to receive the funding for her career. Amidst these challenges, Anya said that giving up was not on her radar. She said something was inspiring every day to try one more thing. Anya encourages everyone to try one more thing when the day is not going as planned.
Anya has been inducted into the Board of Directors at the Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE), positioned as the Southeast Region Director of OBAP, and promoted to Programs Director and Co-founder of OBAP’s Explore Aerospace Program. This proud young female and inspiring captain maintains membership and volunteers with several other organizations, such as Sisters of the Skies, Women in Aviation, and the Middle Georgia State University Alumni Association.
To find out more about Anya Kearns, visit her website at https://www.captainkearns.com/.


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