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Trailblazing TU alumna pilots cadets in Army helicopter

December 01, 2023

Army ROTC cadets, commanders and other personnel with Lt. Kayla Freeman in front of helicopter.
Lt. Kayla Freeman (kneeling center) with Army ROTC cadets and personnel beside the Chinook helicopter.

Contact: Thonnia Lee, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
   

TUSKEGEE, AL — Tuskegee University Army ROTC cadets gathered early Thursday morning on a campus field with the chill in the air and morning dew blanketing the Goat Farm. Their fall training exercise brought a little excitement as First Lieutenant Kayla Freeman ’16, Alabama National Guard’s first Black female pilot and a Tuskegee alumna, prepared to fly the students in an imposing Chinook helicopter to Fort Moore in Columbus, Georgia.

The two-dozen or so students climbed into the helicopter used to transport Alabama National Guard members for real Army missions and were whisked away as traffic stopped and curious motorists parked on the side of the road to see what was happening.

Lt. Freeman, who earned her wings in 2018, is a Tuskegee aerospace engineering graduate and offered students insight as an Army leader, an African American woman who is a leader in Alabama, and a recent Tuskegee graduate and trailblazer.

She is a long line of Tuskegee women aviators. Tuskegee has been the No. 1 producer of Black aerospace engineers, supporting a new generation of women in flight.  Lt. Freeman was deployed to the Middle East as a platoon leader in the Alabama National Guard’s 1-169th Aviation Battalion and has flown over 250 hours of combat flight without any accident or incidents. In 2019, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey honored Lt. Freeman with the Veteran of the Year Award.

      

© 2023 Tuskegee University

Army ROTC cadets and personnel stand beside the Chinook helicopter.
Army ROTC cadets and personnel standing beside the Chinook helicopter.
Lt. Kayla Freeman talking with Army ROTC cadets.
Lt. Kayla Freeman talking with Army ROTC cadets.
Lt. Kayla Freeman standing in field with the Chinook helicopter in the background.
Lt. Kayla Freeman standing in the field with the Chinook helicopter in the background.
The Chinook helicopter in flight.
The impressive Chinook helicopter in flight.