Thursday, April 22, 2010

Black Pilots of Homebuilt Aircraft

Ultralight Airmanship is not just for "crazy whiteboys." There have been Black ultralight aviators since the earliest days of the homebuilt aircraft craze. Along with the fascinating stores of these aviators come stories of the equally fascinatting aircraft they flew. Examinin the lives of these individuals can give insight into the motivation behind their flying machines.

A particular homebuilt aircraft aviator that comes to my mind is a man by the name of Lewis Jackson. Jackson was also a school teacher that taught 8th graders in a small school. His interest in aircraft was cultivated as a child. Eventually, Jackson became a pilot, a barnstormer, and later a flight instructor. Jackson was the trainer of many of the Tuskeegee airman.

After training pilots at Tuskeege, Jackson began building and designing aircraft. Jackson's main desire as a airplane builder was to create an airplane that every household could own. He set out to accomplish this task by designing an airplane that was "roadable." He had many different airplane designs that had folding wings. When the wings folded, the airplane could drive on the road as a car. He began test flying his designs in the 1950's and continued into the 70's.

Dr. Jackson continued to test these planes for the remainder of his life. He passed away in 1994 after a long life of promoting roadable aircraft and helping many Black Americans get into aviation.

But good ideas never die...

Greene County - Lewis A. Jackson airport is named for Dr. Jackson.


  1. I remember reading about others that made personal air crafts. It is always great to have a dream.

  2. I love reading about this guy. I wish they had more photos of his aircraft. I would like to draw on in 3d. With the materials they have today his aircraft would have been a hit.