NYPD veteran helps young aviators take to the skies on Long Island

From a young age, Cletodell Titus says he always wanted to fly airplanes. 

“I guess my parents didn’t really have the funds because it’s expensive,” he said. 

So, Titus joined the NYPD instead, earning his pilot’s license later outside of work. Now, the 15-year-veteran cop and licensed flight instructor never forgot about the opportunities he lacked.

“I was that same kid in the inner city, how can I give back to them?” Titus said.

So, last year Titus teamed up with his supervisor and another police officer in their Bed-Stuy precinct to co-found United Youth Aviators, a non-profit camp to introduce the aviation industry to kids who otherwise might have struggled to find and access it.

“I remember at first, I could barely taxi the plane to the runway,” said Ronald West, a camp participant. “Now, I’m basically doing it all.”

The camp relies on a group of benefactors and recently received $20,000 in funding from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. It plans to expand in the coming year to help all of its students reach the 40 hours necessary to receive their pilot license. 

The first class of nine students graduate from the inaugural five-week program on August 16.