Tyler, TX

Breaking big barriers: Anya Kearns becomes the 2nd African American woman Captain at Delta Air Lines

Tour Tyler Texas

I am a community publicist in East Texas since 1985. In this role, I have covered thousands of special events. I am also the founder of the founder Tour Tyler Texas and the Texas African American Museum both programs are under the auspices of the Empowerment Community Development Corporation - Clarence Edmond (Shabba) Shackelford.

Anya Kearns had always had dreams of traveling the world. She thought the best way to accomplish this was to become a flight attendant until she was introduced to flying at 15. Her interest was piqued by a non-profit flight school that educates minority youth, Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE). She attended ACE on Saturday mornings until she graduated from the youth program and Marietta High School in 2009.

ACE introduced her to the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), in which she participated in their Summer 2007 ACE Academy. This Academy allowed her to experience behind-the-scenes operations of Delta Air Lines Headquarters, Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, Dobbins Air Force Base, and Air Traffic Control facilities, and enjoy an introduction flight. This immersive aerospace week birthed a new dream and gave her wings. 

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Tour Tyler TexasPhoto Credit: Photos by PhotosBy Terbo

The following year she was interviewed and selected to participate in an elite flight training camp, the OBAP Atlanta Solo Flight Academy. She was accepted and gained the technical skills to fly an aircraft alone and become a solo flight student just after her 17th birthday. As the academy celebrated the success of the students, Anya Kearns was recognized for her determination and passion as her mentors awarded her the Charlie Tutt Award for Outstanding Achievement. In the summer of her graduating year, she returned to volunteer as the Assistant Director of the next Solo Flight academy. She wanted to help ensure those students have the same unforgettable experience.

Her aviation journey continued when she was accepted into the Flight Training Program at Middle Georgia State University. She pursued a double major; in Air Traffic Control and Flight Management. Upon receipt of her Bachelor of Flight Management, she became the first African American Female pilot to do so at this university. Anya demonstrated a skilled level of balance and resilience. Exampled by her dedication to her education, and flight training, as a cheerleader, student ambassador, residential aid, and Vice Chair of the Student Government’s Association. 

Nonetheless, her financial standing was a deterrent to her finishing her flight training. Her creativity allowed her to discover different options to pay for her flight hours in addition to the financing that she was already allotted. These obstacles that she had to overcome required shifts and unexpected changes. For her to be positioned in the correct locations and receive the funding for her career, she found herself to have moved 12 different locations in less than 2 years. Even though her experiences were overwhelming and unchartered, giving up was not on her radar. Every day she felt a new inspiration to just try ONE MORE THING. And so it went for the rest of her days, when things look bleak, she encourages all to just try ONE MORE THING.

"Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” - Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

Read about her journey

Anya Kearns - Career Story

Because of Anya Kearns's leadership, pioneering qualities, and welcoming personality she accomplished many milestones in her 20s. She has become the first black female pilot at three of her past employers. At the age of 24 she was hired at Endeavor Air (a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines) as a First Officer; subsequently became a New Hire Pilot Mentor, promoted to Assistant Lead Pilot Mentor, and became a Field Pilot Recruiter. In her 27th year, she completed training and enjoyed her role as a Captain at Endeavor Air. 

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When she began her journey at 14, she had dreams of walking down those halls at the Delta Air Lines headquarters in a pilot uniform. Each part of her journey had prepared her for the day she was invited to her interview. On March 16, 2020, she walked down those very halls and was fitted for her Delta Air Lines pilot uniform. Unbeknownst to the world, a pandemic that would cripple the industry was underway. COVID-19 precautions were taken and everyone that was in training was asked to be dismissed and await word for their return. Although still having the title of a Delta Air Lines pilot was the goal, this is not how Anya thought her journey would be. 

After months of awaiting the news that she'd possibly be furloughed, she decided to take an opportunity to go farther than she has ever been. She began applying to pilot positions all over the world. A Captain position to fly in Hawaii was offered to her and she accepted. Once again she was surprised to learn that Ohana by Hawaiian hadn’t had another black female Captain. Whilst awaiting her return to Delta, she lived in paradise and explored the islands.

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With the path she endured, Anya had a first-hand experience of the importance of increasing diversity in aerospace. She continued consistent years of service to the organizations that inspired her aviation career. Anya has been inducted into the Board of Directors at Aviation Career Enrichment (ACE), positioned as the Southeast Region Director of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), and promoted to Programs Director, and Co-founder of OBAP’s Explore Aerospace Program. She maintains membership and volunteers with several other organizations such as Sisters of the Skies (SOS), Women in Aviation (WAI), and the Middle Georgia State University Alumni Association.

Anya returned to Delta in October 2021, as a First Officer on the Boeing 757 & 767-300. 

As of August 2022, she will become Captain Anya Kearns at Delta Air Lines.

Sources: https://www.captainkearns.com, https://www.TourTylerTexas.org, https://www.AllNationsTV.com, https://www.https://www.EmpowermentCDC.org, and https://www.TexasAfricanAmericanMuseum.org

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas
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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas
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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas
  • Tour Tyler Texas, is more than just Tourism. http://TourTylerTexas.org
  • Tour Tyler Texas, under the auspices of the nonprofit, Empowerment Community Development Corporation which is a Community Organization at 309 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd 75702

LeRoy Francis Sr. dba Community Funeral Home Tyler

Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas
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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

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I have been a community publicist in East Texas since 1985 in this role I have covered 10's of thousands of special events. I am also the founder of the founder Tour Tyler Texas and the Texas African American Museum

Tyler, TX
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