Philadelphia native Guion Bluford Jr. served in the U.S. Air Force as an officer and pilot before working at NASA. With multiple degrees in aerospace engineering, Bluford was chosen to participate in the NASA astronaut training program in 1978 and became the first African American person in space as a crew member of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.
Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III was hailed as a national hero in the United States when he successfully executed an emergency water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River off Manhattan, New York City, on Jan. 15, 2009 after the aircraft was disabled by striking a flock of Canada geese during its initial climb out of LaGuardia Airport. All of the 155 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft survived.
As a pilot, Bessie Coleman toured the country as a barnstormer, performing aerobatics at air shows. She was the first female from African American and Native American descent to earn her pilot license and the first African American to earn an international pilot license.
Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. was an American United States Air Force general and commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. He was the first African-American general officer in the United States Air Force. On Dec. 9, 1998, he was promoted to four-star general by President Bill Clinton.
Noel F. Parrish was a brigadier general in the United States Air Force who was the commander of a group of African-American airmen known as the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Parrish took command of Tuskegee Army Air Field in 1941 and oversaw the training of airmen for Black fighter and bomber squadrons.
—Compiled by Chanel Hill