Celebrating Black History Month – Aviation Heroes

Every February marks the celebration of Black History Month. We recognize and reflect on the many Black trailblazers in the aviation industry who have made vital contributions in history. Their courage, bravery and determination are an inspiration to us all.

We also recognize and we take pride in our diversity as a company. Without these significant Black figures in aviation, our own company as well as the entire aviation industry would not be as advanced and inclusive as it is today.

This month we are highlighting significant Black figures in aviation who helped pave the way for those in aviation today.

Bessie Coleman – Bessie Coleman wanted to learn how to fly, but no U.S. flight school would accept her into the program because she was a Black woman. She then took it upon herself to learn French and attend flight training school in France. In 1921, she earned her pilot license and traveled around Europe to gain further flying experience so she could perform in air shows. In 1922, she founded a school for pilots of all races and encouraged many Black individuals to begin flying.

Emory Malick – Emory Malick was the first Black person to earn a pilot’s license in the U.S. in the year 1912. He attended Curtiss Aviation School in San Diego and flew his homemade airplane throughout the program. At 30 years old, Malick also became the first black pilot to earn a Federal Transport License.

Patrice Clarke Washington – Captain Patrice Clarke Washington attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1979 and was the only black student. She graduated in 1982 as the first Black woman in the school’s history with a BS in aeronautical science. In 1994 Washington became the first Black female airline Captain, as she was promoted to Captain by UPS.

David Harris – Captain David Harris was the first Black commercial pilot hired by a major U.S. airline and was also the first Black male to be promoted to Captain. After graduating from Ohio State University with a B.S. degree in education, Harris flew for the Air Force and was then hired by American Airlines where he flew for 30 years, retiring in 1994.

Be sure to watch our blog and social media channels this month as we recognize the significance of Black History Month.