Black Wings


African American Pioneer Aviators


First licensed African American pilot in the United States.

Aviation visionary William J. Powell published Black Wings in 1934, urging blacks to “fill the air with black wings.”

In 1932 James Herman Banning and Thomas C. Allen completed the first transcontinental flight by black aviators.

Bessie Coleman was awarded her pilot’s license in 1921 by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. She trained in France because no American flight school would accept her as a student.

Maj. James Ellison, base commander, returns the salute of Mac Ross as he reviews the first class of Tuskegee cadets on the flight line in 1941. Ellison, unsupportive of the Tuskegee program, was replaced by Lt. Col. Noel F. Parrish. As base commander…