Tuskegee Airman plane

An authentic, newly restored P-51D Mustang painted in the likeness of the 332nd Fighter Group’s Red Tail plane flown by Tuskegee Airman Capt. Lawrence Dickson inside the U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

—Matthew Hinton/New Orleans Advocate

• On March 20, 1912, at the age of 30, Emory Conrad Malick, of Pennsylvania, became the first Black pilot to earn an international pilot’s license.

Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1921 and flew as a show/stunt pilot.

Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932.

• In 1941, The 99th Pursuit Squadron was activated at Tuskegee comprised of Black pilots and ground crews. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen, a segregated military unit.

• Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. was the first African-American U.S. Air Force (which was basically known as the Army Air Corps earlier) pilot. In July 1942, he was assigned as commander of the Tuskegee Airmen.

• Guion “Guy” Bluford Jr., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the first African American in space. Bluford participated in four flights of the space shuttle between 1983 and 1992. He is a graduate of Overbrook Senior High School in West Philadelphia.

Mae Carol Jemison became the first African-American woman to travel into space in 1992 when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The former NASA astronaut is also an engineer and physician.

Patrice Clarke Washington became the first African-American female to command planes for a major air carrier in 1994.

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