The First African American Pilot For Continental Airlines <


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Black Airline Pilots

Marlon Green  

The First African American Pilot For Continental Airlines <


Marlon Green was a captain and pilot with the 36th Air Rescue Squadron at Johnson Air Force Base in Tokyo, Japan having logged 3,071 hours in multi-engine bombers and cargo planes. Green flew the SA-16 Albatross with the 36th Air Rescue Squadron.

While in the Air Force and on leave, in 1957, Green applied with Continental Airlines for a position as a pilot. Green was later invited for an interview because he had left the space blank where it asked for racial identity.

However, rather than hire a Black man, Continental hired five White applicants with less flight time than Green. Marlon Green had the most experienced of the five applicants on flight test (See Colorado Anti-Discrimination Commission V. Continental Air Lines, Inc. March 28, 1963. You can also find other court cases at Anti-Discrimination Court Case)

Green had a choice to make. He could have turned to another field or fight the injustice through the courts. He chose to fight, first filing a complaint with the Colorado Anti Discrimination Commission, it took some six years with battles all the way to the Supreme Court before winning his case in 1963. During this period of time, Green was turned down by not less than ten other commercial airlines.

The thin 33-year-old Marlon Green donned the uniform of a pilot for the first time in 1963 when he started flying the turbo- prop Viscounts for Continental out of Denver to cities in the Southwest. Green finally began flying for Continental in 1965 and he remained with the company for 14 years until his retirement.


Today, thanks in part to Captain Green's pioneering efforts, the airlines workforce represents a rich diversity of cultures and lifestyles, where ethnic minorities account for more than 40 percent of the domestic workforce. Captain Marlon Green died in 2009 at the age of 80. On February 9, 2010, Continental Airlines named one of its aircraft in honor of its late Capt. Marlon Green in a special ceremony at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

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