Posted on July 18, 2013 at 4:29 am


Obit of the Day: Paul Adams, Tuskegee Airman

Paul Adams, a member of the 332nd Fighter Group, also known as “The Red Tails,“ died on July 8, 2013 at the age of 92.  Mr. Adams was trained with other black pilots at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Mr. Adams, who would retire from the military as a Lieutenant Colonel, joined the training program upon his graduation from South Carolina State University.

The Tuskegee Airman, called “guardian angels” by the bomber crews they escorted during World War II, would fly over 1500 missions in the European theater.

Mr. Adams remained in the Army until 1962 when he retired. Having been transferred to Lincoln, Nebraska, Mr. Adams was hired as a high school history teacher in the city’s public school system – one of the first African Americans to teach in Lincoln. (He would also teach the school system’s first Black history class.)

A former leader of the Lincoln NAACP Mr. Adams retired from teaching in 1982. In 2008 the city of Lincoln named a newly built honored his contributions by naming a newly built elementary school for him. (The Adams Elementary School’s mascot is the “Aviators,“ of course.)

In 2007, Mr. Adams was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal along with all other Tuskegee Airmen for their service during World War II.

Sources: Lincoln Journal-Star, Omaha.com, and Wikipedia

(Image of Lt. Col. Adams, while still only a lieutenant, is a family photo courtest of the Lincoln Journal-Star)

Other Tuskegee Airmen featured on Obit of the Day:

Herbert Carter

William Holloman – my very first post

Luther McIlwain

Arthur Saunders and Raymond L. Johnson

and other African American military pioneers:

Wesley Brown – First African American graduate of the Naval Academy

Earl Hood – A “Montford Point Marine”

Ruth Lucas – 1st African American woman to earn the rank of colonel in the USAF

Posted on July 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm


HISTORY MEME six women: bessie coleman [4/6]

Bessie Coleman was an American civil aviator, the first female pilot of African American descent, and the first person of African American descent to have an international pilot license. She was born in 1892 in Texas, the tenth of thirteen children, and in school showed herself to be a lover of reading and mathematics. She enrolled in what is now Langston College in Oklahoma, but was forced to return home due to lack of funds. At 23, she moved to Chicago, where she heard stories from returning World War I pilots about flying during the war. Due to her race and gender, however, despite herr interest in aviation, no American flight school or aviator would train her. Determined to become an aviator, Bessie went to France in 1920 and, a year later, earned her aviation license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, becoming the first American of any gender to receive a license from that organization. She trained as a “barnstorming" stunt flier in order to make a living. Known as “Queen Bess,“ she was well-known for her daredevil maneuvers, though her flamboyant style was often criticized by the press. Though offered a role in a film, when she learned that her first scene would show her in tattered clothes with a walking stick and pack, she walked off set  rather than perpetuate the derogatory image of African Americans. In 1926, in preparation for an air show, her plane failed to pull out of a dive and began to spin, causing Bessie to be thrown from the plane, 2,000 miles above the ground, killing her instantly. She was 34 years old. (x)

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 6:33 am



Hiuaz Kairovna Dospanova (1922-2008), the only female pilot and navigator from Kazakhstan to serve during the Second World War,

From May 1942 she served as navigator, and later became the head of communication of the 46th Guards Night Bomber Regiment—commonly referred to as the Night Witches, a nickname they were given by the Germans that they terrorized in their nightly raids.

Dospanova made more than 300 combat missions and was seriously injured in April 1943 while making a landing in blackout conditions; she survived the crash but fractured both legs. Three months later, she returned to the regiment to continue fighting, going all the way to Berlin for the victory.

For her courage and bravery, she was awarded the Order of the Red Star, medals for the defense of the Caucasus, for the liberation of Warsaw, and for victory over Germany. Four years before her death, In December 2004, the President of Kazakhstan decreed that Dospanova was to be awarded the title of National Hero for her heroic actions.

she looks way cool

National Hero!

Posted on March 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm


Bessie Coleman (1896-1926) was the first African American woman to earn an aviator’s license.  Unable to find anyone willing to train a black woman to fly in the US, Bessie learned French so that she could learn to fly in France.  She was the first American of any race or gender to earn an international pilot’s license.  

Bessie died at age 34 during a test flight for an exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida.

Bessie is profiled in a Smithsonian Channel documentary entitled Black Wings, which is airing this month.  An excerpt from the documentary can be seen here.  If you are interested in black female pilots, check out the novel Flygirl.

Posted on March 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm


Hazel Lee [1912-1944] 

Experienced women pilots, like Lee, were eager to join the WASP, and responded to interview requests by Cochran. Members of the WASP reported to Avenger Field, in wind swept Sweetwater, Texas for an arduous 6-month training program. Lee was accepted into the 4th class, 43 W 4.[2] Hazel Ying Lee was the first Chinese American woman to fly for the United States military.

Although flying under military command, the women pilots of the WASP were classified as civilians. They were paid through the civil service. No military benefits were offered. Even if killed in the line of duty, no military funerals were allowed. The WASPs were often assigned the least desirable missions, such as winter trips in open cockpit airplanes. Commanding officers were reluctant to give women any flying deliveries. It took an order from the head of the Air Transport Command to improve the situation.

Upon graduation, Lee was assigned to the third Ferrying Group at Romulus, Michigan. Their assignment was critical to the war effort; Deliver aircraft, pouring out of converted automobile factories, to points of embarkation, where they would then be shipped to the European and Pacific War fronts. In a letter to her sister, Lee described Romulus as “a 7-day workweek, with little time off.” When asked to describe Lee’s attitude, a fellow member of the WASP summed it up in Lee’s own words, “I’ll take and deliver anything.”

Described by her fellow pilots as “calm and fearless,” Lee had two forced landings. One landing took place in a Kansas wheat field. A farmer, pitchfork in hand, chased her around the plane while shouting to his neighbors that the Japanese had invaded Kansas. Alternately running and ducking under her wing, Lee finally stood her ground. She told the farmer who she was and demanded that he put the pitchfork down. He complied.

Lee was a favorite with just about all of her fellow pilots. She had a great sense of humor and a marvelous sense of mischief. Lee used her lipstick to inscribe Chinese characters on the tail of her plane and the planes of her fellow pilots. One lucky fellow who happened to be a bit on the chubby side, had his plane dubbed (unknown to him) “Fat Ass.”

Lee was in demand when a mission was RON (Remaining Overnight) In a big city or in a small country town, she could always find a Chinese restaurant, supervise the menu, and often cook the food herself. She was a great cook. Fellow WASP pilot Sylvia Dahmes Clayton observed that “Hazel provided me with an opportunity to learn about a different culture at a time when I did not know anything else. She expanded my world and my outlook on life.”

Lee and the others were the first women to pilot fighter aircraft for the United States military.

Image (via World War II Database)

Text [click for full article] (via Wikipedia)

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