“The education my people need is that knowledge, the attribute of God, which creates power to accomplish and make progress in the good things or the righteous things. We have tried other means and ways and we have failed. Why not try Islam?”
–from the book “Message to the Blackman in America” by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad
HOUSTON (FinalCall.com) – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has stressed that in order to achieve a goal, one must first envision it, and then work to bring it into concrete reality.
Brother Donald Muhammad of Houston’s Muhammad’s Mosque No. 45 has had a vision in his head since childhood, and has now achieved it–he has become an accomplished pilot for Continental Airlines and has a story that he hopes will inspire young people to think big.
“None of this would have been possible without my wife. I feel like she is the one who should be interviewed because she is my inspiration for all of this,” said Bro. Donald of his wife, Sister Tacanesha. “As a teen, I saw how hard my mother was working and I decided that when I got married, my wife wouldn’t have to carry the load alone; that I would try to make it easier for her than it was for my mother.”
His first flights as a pilot were to West Palm Beach, Florida and Austin, Texas. Where did it all begin?
While playing with a kite at the age of six, Bro. Donald was intrigued by flying and initially desired to be an astronaut, which, surprisingly at the age of 12, he had already met the height requirements to go into outer space. As time progressed, his overall focus was to do something he enjoyed and get paid for it.
In 1992, as a high school senior, he became a registered member of the Nation of Islam and was inspired by the NOI history as it related to owning our own planes in the 1970s. This fact motivated him even more to pursue aviation. In 1993, he married Sis. Tacanesha, which he sees as his greatest accomplishment.
“My greatest accomplishment is staying married for 14 years while pursuing a dream. My wife and I wed our freshman year in college at the age of 18 and 19. In aviation especially, the divorce rate is very high. So, I decided from the beginning that I would rather pump gas than to lose my family,” said Bro. Donald. They now have two sons, Khadir and Saddiq.
Upon graduation from Texas Southern University with a degree in aviation management, he would be accepted into flight school at Western Michigan University, which posed a challenge to him and his family. He was required to move to Michigan to complete the 17-month training while his family remained in Houston.
“I could not have completed it without my wife, because she stayed in Houston to take care of our boys while I lived in Michigan during my training. Interestingly, I finished flight school shortly after 9/11,” he stated.
He returned to Houston seeking to join a major airline. In the process, he flew charters and single engine planes before being hired by a regional airline. With continued patience and hard work, he landed the position at Continental Airlines flying 737s which can seat over 160 persons.
Bro. Donald stated that going from a regional airline to a major airline is likened unto being called up from a “Triple A” team to the major league baseball team. Since joining the airline, he has flown as far as Venezuela and Ecuador.
“Aviation is extremely important in nation building and I hope that more of our young people will pursue this field of study,” he encouraged. “I want to make it easier for pilots to get into aviation as it was for me. I stand on the shoulders of all of the Black aviators who came before me. They encountered unimaginable hardships to pursue their dreams of flying. I carry that with me every time I leave my home when I go to fly.” He also has expressed his deep desire to be a pilot for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan one day.
The Legacy Continues
– In 1921, Bessie Coleman became the world’s first Black person to become an airplane pilot and the first woman from the United States to hold an international pilot license after completing aviation school in France.
– In 1941, Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. became the first Black person to solo an aircraft as a U.S. Army Air Corps officer.
– On March 7, 1942, young Black pilots stood at attention on Tuskegee’s airstrip for induction into the U.S. Army Air Corps. Eight days later, the 100th Fighter Squadron was established as a part of the 332nd Fighter Group.
– On Mar. 23, Barrington Irving Jr., 23, took off from Opa-Lock Executive Airport in Florida to attempt to become the youngest person and first Black pilot to travel the globe alone. Born in Jamaica, Mr. Irving became interested in flying at the age of 15 and turned down numerous college football scholarships to become a pilot and started his own aviation organization that encourages youth to pursue flying.