African Americans

Showing 1 - 10 of 18
Tue, February 28 2017

African American Pioneer Dale White and the 1939 Goodwill Flight

In 1939, Dale L. White Sr., a prominent African American pilot, set out on a "Goodwill Flight" from Chicago to Washington, DC, to make the case for African American participation in flight training, both civilian and military. His flight illustrated the challenges that African Americans faced in reaching equality—White was welcomed in Sherwood, Ohio, but was not permitted to land in Morgantown, West Virginia. Nearly 10 years later In 1948, President Truman integrated the armed services by presidential order.

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Portrait of Dale L. White
Sun, February 5 2017

The Long Career of Perry Young

On this day in 1957, Perry Young Jr. became the first African American pilot to fly a regularly scheduled passenger route for a U.S. airline. The press and community leaders hailed the flight as a significant step forward on the path to desegregation. For Young, it marked a professional milestone after years of persistence in the face of discrimination. 

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Perry Young
Wed, October 5 2016

An Original WWII Smokejumper

WWII veteran and Triple Nickle Thomas McFadden recently sat down with STEM in 30 host Marty Kelsey to talk about his time serving as a smoke jumper during WWII and his role in Operation Firefly.

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Tue, February 2 2016

Black Wings: The Life of African American Aviation Pioneer William Powell

When African American pilot, engineer, and entrepreneur William Powell was a young adult, even the skies were segregated. Many would-be African American pilots, such as first licensed African American pilot Bessie Coleman, were forced to go to France for pilot training and licenses issued by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. According to a June 12, 2012 article in the online publication, Air Facts, in 1934 there were only 12 African Americans out of 18,041 pilots in the U.S., and out of 8,651 licensed mechanics, just two were African Americans. Airlines wouldn’t even allow African Americans as passengers.

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William J. Powell in 1917
Thu, January 28 2016

Remembering the Challenger Seven

The crew members of the Challenger represented a cross section of the American population in terms of race, gender, geography, background, and religion. The explosion became one of the most significant events of the 1980s, as billions around the world saw the accident on television and empathized with any one of the several crew members killed. Each has a unique story.

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STS-51L Crew Members
Tue, September 15 2015

Remembering Frank E. Petersen Jr.

The first black Marine Corps pilot and general officer, Frank E. Petersen Jr. died on August 25 at the age of 83.

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Frank E. Petersen
Fri, February 27 2015

Vance Marchbanks' Contribution to Public Health Policy on Sickle Cell Disease

Dr. Vance Marchbanks, Jr. is famous in both the black history and aerospace history communities for his accomplishments as one of the first in his field. He was one of two black MDs to complete the United States Army Air Corps School in Aerospace Medicine at the beginning of World War II. His fame continued through his association with the 99th and 301st Fighter Groups, who later became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

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Vance H. Marchbanks Jr.
Wed, August 22 2012

Tuskegee Red Lands at Air and Space!

During World War II, a group of young, enthusiastic and skilled African American men pressed the limits of flight and the boundaries of racial inequality by becoming Army Air Forces pilots. Most of these pilots trained at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.

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Tuskegee Crape Myrtle
Thu, May 24 2012

The Desegregation of Airports in the American South

Many older African Americans who grew up in the South painfully remember the time when black passengers had to sit in the back of busses or use separate train compartments; and when train stations and bus terminals provided separate but mostly unequal facilities such as drinking fountains, restrooms, waiting lounges, and eating facilities for black and white passengers.

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Segregated Montgomery Airport
Thu, February 9 2012

Red Tail Stories

I would like to think that I’ve always known the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen—the groundbreaking pilots of the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group.

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Tuskegee Airmen with Mae Jemison


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