African American Aviation Pioneers

In 1933, Dr. Albert E. Forsythe, a black physician, met Charles A. Anderson, Sr. At that time Anderson had the distinction of being the first African American to receive an air transport pilot’s license from the Civil Aeronautics Administration. Anderson and Forsythe shared a passion for flying and wanted to introduce other African Americans to the field of aviation.

The duo figured that record setting and attention getting flights would prove effective as an introduction. In September of 1933 they became the first African Americans to complete a round trip transcontinental flight from Atlantic City, New Jersey to Los Angeles, California. They were also the first African Americans to make an international flight to Montreal, Canada. They received worldwide attention in 1934 when they flew  their new airplane christened The Booker T. Washington on a Pan American Goodwill Tour.

Anderson was employed by Tuskegee Institute in 1940. In 1941, the Army selected him to be Tuskegee’s Ground Commander and Chief Instructor for the aviation cadets of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, America’s first all black fighter squadron. History remembers this squadron as part of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Both men had distinguished lives and careers. Dr. Forsythe passed away in 1987 in Newark, New Jersey his home since 1946. Charles Anderson passed away in 1996 in Tuskegee, Alabama.

The envelope shown in this post was issued to commemorate their visit to Newark after their transcontinental flight.IMG_2450

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