Forgotten Wings: 7 Overlooked Aviators Who Redefined Flight History | Aviation

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While aviation history is filled with tales of legendary pilots who captured the world’s imagination, there are unsung heroes whose remarkable achievements have often been overshadowed. Join us as we shine a spotlight on seven overlooked aviators whose contributions to flight deserve recognition.

1. Eugene Bullard: World War I African American Fighter Pilot

Long before the famed Tuskegee Airmen, Eugene Bullard, a boxer and jazz musician, became the first African American fighter pilot during World War I. He was from Columbus, Georgia, the seventh of 10 children.

Within two months of the onset of WWI, Bullard joined the 3rd Marching Regiment of the Foreign Legion, and started out as a machine gunner on the Somme front. Later, as a member of the 170th Infantry, Bullard was wounded in action and learned to fly in 1916 on a bet. He volunteered for the French Air Service (Gironde), earning his license from the Aero-Club de France in 1917. He served with other American aviators serving with the Franch Air Corps  at the Lafayette Flying Corps and later as assigned to Escadrille N.93. He served past armistice, and was later passed over for recruitment in the U.S. Army Air Service because he was Black. He died at age 66 in New York City. 

2. Jerrie Mock: A Solo Odyssey

 In 1964, Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world. Despite her historic feat, Mock’s accomplishment was often overshadowed by her male counterparts.

She achieved many other firsts, including first to circumnavigate the globe in a single-engine airplane, first to fly from the U.S. to Africa via the North Atlantic, first to fly the Pacific in a single-engine aircraft, first woman to fly both the Atlantic and Pacific, and first woman to fly to Pacific in both directions. She also achieved many speed firsts throughout the late 1960s. Mock died at age 88 at her home in Florida. 

3. Elsie Mackay: A Transatlantic Pioneer

Elsie Mackay, an English actress…

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