1st Asian American NYPD pilot shares journey of soaring through glass ceiling

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Friday, May 12, 2023
1st Asian American NYPD pilot soars through glass ceiling
The first Asian American NYPD pilot Sgt. Jenda Wu is sharing the story of his immigration from Taiwan to breaking barriers in New York City.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The first Asian American NYPD pilot is sharing the story of how he was inspired as a young child to eventually come to break barriers in New York City.

As the saying goes: dream big, the sky's the limit - and Sgt. Jenda Wu took that expression literally.

Now he is the first Asian American NYPD pilot.

His career started with a dream when he was 6 years old when he emigrated from Taiwan.

That flight to Kennedy was his first time in the air and it was love at first sight.

"It just felt, it just felt so natural," Wu said.

But his path to eventually soaring through the glass ceiling was a windy road.

He entered Army National Guard and went to law school before he got his wings. But he did all of that with that itch to fly lingering in the background.

"The conventional wisdom was 'oh your eyes had to be perfect in order to become a pilot,' so I said 'oh forget about flying because my eyes aren't perfect 20/20,' which was a total misconception, totally false," Wu said. "And I said 'what am I gonna do with just a history degree from SUNY Albany?'"

He later opened a law practice in Queens where he grew up.

But after a few years he knew he had to scratch that itch so he started taking flight lessons when he was 30.

In 2002 he joined the NYPD.

"As an attorney, my God, you bring your work home, your work like lives in your head over the weekend for weeks on end and months on end," Wu said. "As a police officer, helping people in that way had a finality to it."

He served in the NYPD's highway patrol along the way for more than 20 years before getting into the aviation unit.

From day one though, he knew he belonged in the cockpit.

"Every day is different on the job," Wu said. "There's no doubt about it. This is not a 9-5 job. It keeps you on your toes. You're always learning things."

Now he is always learning new things and always seeing things from different perspectives -- from high above the city.

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