“Chief” Anderson was Chief Flight Instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen. He’s been called the Father of Black Aviation and has been compared to Charles Lindbergh.
Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson (1907-1996) did not let the barriers of racial prejudice get in the way of his dream of flying. His diligence paid off when he became the first African American to earn a commercial pilot’s license.
As a child in Pennsylvania, Anderson watched airplanes soar across the sky and knew he wanted to be in the cockpit one day. After high school, he could not find anyone willing to rent him a plane or teach him to fly because of the color of his skin.
In 1929, Anderson bought his own plane and received a private pilot’s license. Three years later, he obtained his commercial license in spite of the inspector’s opposition to testing “a colored boy.” In the next two years, Anderson and a friend became the first black pilots to make a round-trip flight across the U.S. They also flew a goodwill tour of the Caribbean.
As World War II raged in Europe, America prepared for combat. In 1940, Anderson was hired to be Chief Flight Instructor at Tuskegee Institute’s new Civilian Pilot Training Program. By the time peace was restored, the “Chief” had trained nearly 1,000 African-American pilots, who became the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
Anderson blazed a path to the sky for others to follow and earned the title “Father of Black Aviation.”