Topic

African Americans

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Thu, April 19 2018

An Aviation Pioneer's Life in Documents

The personal papers of William J. Powell, an early African American aviation pioneer, highlight his career with the American Expeditionary Forces and his work to support African Americans in aviation.

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William J. Powell
Fri, February 16 2018

How an Early Black Pilot Soared Above Setbacks

Janet Waterford Bragg was a pioneer female African American pilot whose leadership in black pilot organizations in the 1930s paved the way for other aviators. 

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Janet Bragg
Thu, February 15 2018

Astronaut Victor Glover on the Challenges of NASA Training

What is it like to train as an astronaut? Victor Glover, part of NASA’s 2013 astronaut class, is one of the few who knows what it’s like to prepare for a journey beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

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Victor Glover training at the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab
Wed, February 14 2018

Love is in the Air: Great Couples of Aerospace History

Aerospace pioneers make all kinds of new discoveries during their careers—some even find that special someone along the way.

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Willa Brown and Cornelius Coffey
Wed, February 7 2018

Astronaut Alvin Drew on the Final Days of Discovery

NASA Astronaut and USAF command pilot Alvin Drew shares his reflections on a lifetime of exploring the universe.

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NASA astronaut Alvin Drew, spacesuit fit check
Mon, November 13 2017

Benjamin O. Davis’s Thanksgiving Turkey in Taipei

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many members of the United States military are stationed overseas, far from home.  In November 1956, Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. and his wife Agatha sat down to a Thanksgiving turkey in Taipei, Taiwan, provided by an unusual source—the Vice President of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

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Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and Wife, Agatha, at Taipei Air Force Officers’ Wives Club Event
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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Smokejumper
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

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