C. R. Smith Museum Celebrates Black Aviation Accomplishments


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C. R. Smith Museum Celebrates Black Aviation Accomplishments

By Eddy Metcalf

February 1, 2012 - The American Airlines C. R. Smith Museum is again recognizing the accomplishments of the pioneers of Black Aviation with the Second Annual Black Aviation Celebration.

The celebration features special presentations by C. B. Rice, an author and historian, and Donald E. "Don" Elder, an original member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen. The Feb. 4 event is an aviation-themed kick-off for Black History Month in February.

Black aviators took to the skies just a few years after the Wright Brothers made their first solo flight. In 1906, 17-year-old Charles Wesley Porters was flying around Pittsburgh.

Emory Malick earned pilot license number 105 in 1912. Five years later, Eugene Bullard earned his wings as a U.S. Army pilot and shot down two enemy aircraft in World War I. In 1921, Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to earn her pilot's license. When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and 12 cadets were being trained at Tuskegee Institute. They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen and served with bravery and distinction. 

They amassed an unmatched military flying record. Referred to as the "Best Kept Secret in Texas," Congress awarded the group the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007. Moving into the Space Age, Guion "Guy" Bluford was the first African-American astronaut. Later, in 2007, Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman astronaut. 

In a special tribute, the Museum will be recognizing the contributions of women pilots over the past 100 years, starting with Louise Quimby, the first female pilot in the U.S. She earned her wings in 1911. 

The celebration program starts Saturday, Feb. 4, at 2 p.m. at the C.R. Smith Museum located on State Highway 360 at FAA Road. The presentation is free with museum admission: adults $5; military, seniors and children 2-18 $3. Museum members can participate free of charge. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.


The C.R. Smith Museum takes visitors on a flight through American Airlines history, with interactive exhibits that entice participation by all age groups. The museum features hundreds of historical artifacts, photographs, full-scale aircraft engines and a rare Douglas DC-3 airliner. In addition, the museum's state of the art digital theater features The Spirit of American, a film, featuring the history of commercial aviation as well as breathtaking aerial photography.

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