Justin Mutawassim, a 27-year-old African American pilot with Delta Air Lines, realized his boyhood aspiration of becoming a pilot while working as a ramp agent for the same airline.
Mutawassim’s passion in flying began when he was 5 years old, when he rode in an airplane and explored the cockpit for the first time. He had always wanted to be a pilot since then, he told the Washington Post.
Yet, his road to his aim became hazy at some point. He was devastated when his middle school instructor, who served in the United States Air Force, incorrectly taught him that perfect vision was required to become a pilot. Mutawassim, who had to wear spectacles, stated that he had no way of verifying it at the time.
Mutawassim decided to pursue a profession in broadcasting after graduating from high school. He started college, got several jobs, and said it wasn’t as rewarding as he thought aviation would be.
In 2014, he dropped out of college and began working as a ramp agent moving bags for Delta Air Lines. His interest in aircraft resurfaced. He soon rose through the ranks, becoming a supervisor and then an instructor. Yet he lacked the confidence to pursue a career as a pilot at the time.
Mutawassim’s life began to alter in 2016 when he met Ivor Martin, a Black pilot. Martin offered to mentor him after learning about his long-held ambition to become a pilot. Mutawassim was able to complete his licenses in less than a year thanks to Martin’s assistance.
In 2018, he began his career as a pilot for a regional airline, followed by a start-up airline. He applied for a job as a pilot at Delta in 2022 after learning that the corporation no longer needed a college degree for pilots. He officially became a Delta pilot after a few months of training.
Mutawassim celebrated his achievement on Twitter. He shared photos of himself as a Delta ramp agent in 2016 and a Delta pilot in 2022. “This one has taken 6 long years to create,” he wrote in his now-viral post.
Mutawassim, who lives in New York City, is currently pursuing a degree in Aviation Science and working towards his next ambition of becoming a captain. He also volunteers as a pilot mentor, paying it forward for what Martin done for him.