Cosby Washingtion’s life-long dream to become a pilot started in the third-grade with a science fair project on paper airplanes that advanced to the city wide science fair.
At thirty-two years old Washington recalls the fateful city wide science fair event that set in motion his career in the aviation industry.
“At the city wide science fair I ran into a man that was part of the Tuskegee Airmen program. He was so impressed that I was intrigued with aviation at a young age that he told my mom once I get to about eleven or twelve to give him a call if I’m still interested in aviation.”
Washington’s mother kept the man’s number and called him when Washington reached the age of thirteen. The man, Richard Jones, enrolled Washington, a young African-American male from Washington D.C., into a camp called “Let’s Fly Up to the 21st Century.” Richard Jones founded the program to expose at-risk youth to aviation-related career fields at an early age.
After completing the camp, Washington was introduced to the Tuskegee Airmen program where he went through ground school, completed the written examination, and then they paid for his first 15 hours of flying. “Ever since I went up for the first time I knew that I wanted to be a pilot and from there I just started to fly whenever I could, ” said Washington.
Washington then completed college with a bachelor’s degree in aviation administration. However, for two years his dreams where halted while he worked in the civilian world at a medical staffing company and as an accountant for children’s hospital.
“I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do…I just felt like I wasn’t fulfilled in life so I started pursuing an opportunity to join the military so that I could get into aviation,” he said.
“It took me two years because no recruiter would really take my application serious because they didn’t think my GPA was competitive to be a pilot but fortunately I was able to talk to someone who made a few phone calls and a recruiter took my application.” At twenty-five years old Washington’s application into the military was finally accepted.
Washington has served for almost six years as a Navy pilot, flying MH-60 Romeo helicopters. Currently, he is doing his short tour and working in Commander, Task Force (CTF) 84, which specializes in homeland security and protection in undersea warfare.
Washington continues to stay in contact with his mentor Richard Jones, the man who propelled his aviation career. “I know that mentorship played a huge role in my success,” he says.
“I was lucky to run into individuals who wanted to help out kids. I just didn’t know any pilots or know that that was a career that I could actually pursue, so I had those individuals to show me the way.” He attributes his success to the opportunities he was afforded and his families support.
Washington advises aspiring pilots to not give up on their dreams despite the difficulties that they might face. “There’s going to be times where you might not think that you’re smart enough or have the proper skills to achieve the task but the only thing that’s keeping you from achieving your goals is your own self regardless of whatever obstacles are in front of you.”