Here’s a heartwarming story that came across my feed. Reuters reports that Graham Shema, who is 7 and from Uganda, has become a legend in his country. Shema has a wealth of aircraft knowledge and budding flying skills — at only 7! He’s been interviewed by local television, and the local newspapers have dubbed him Captain.
Shema loves math and science along with flying and has flown as a trainee three times on a Cessna 172. He plans to be a pilot, an astronaut, and one day travel to Mars. “My role model is Elon Musk,” Shema said. “I like Elon Musk because I want to learn with him about space, to go with him in space, and also to get a handshake.”
The article shared the story of a recent morning when his instructor asked him to explain how the engines worked on a Bombardier CRJ900 plane that was parked on the tarmac at Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport.
“The inlet tubes suck in the air and inject it into the compressor, the compressor squeezes it with the fans, after squeezing it with the fans, it becomes hot,” Shema said, as he gestured and detailed how an engine creates thrust.
A freak accident inspired Shema’s passion for flight. When he was only 3, a police helicopter flew so low to the ground that it blew off the roof of his grandmother’s house on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital city. Shema was playing outside. His mother, a travel agent named Shamim Mwanaisha, said, “It triggered something in his mind.”
Naturally, he started asking her questions about flying. She contacted a local aviation academy last year and Shema started learning about aircraft parts and aviation vocabulary — and after five months of coursework, he started learning how to fly. “I felt like a bird flying up,” Shema said of his first flight.
Between January and March of 2020, he flew three times as a copilot. The pandemic stopped his practice, so he’s been focusing on aviation theory and immersing himself in videos about aviation as well as space exploration on his virtual reality viewer.