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Allen, Thomas Cox  

Caroline M. Brown

aviation mechanic and pilot, was born in Quitman, Wood County, Texas, the youngest of three children; both of his parents were teachers. Allen's father died when Thomas was three months old. His mother, Polly, continued to teach school and to run the family farm.

Allen became interested in flying in 1918, when an airplane made a forced landing in a pasture. The pilots paid the two young Allen brothers to guard the plane overnight so that its fabric and glue would not be eaten by cows. From this experience, Thomas Allen decided to become either an aviator or a mechanic.

In 1919 when Allen was twelve the family moved to Oklahoma City where his mother resumed teaching school Allen often bicycled to a nearby airfield In his teens he persuaded the field owner to take a $100 saxophone as partial trade for flying lessons He worked off the ...


Drew, Alvin  

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...


Melvin, Leland D.  

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and military pilot, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, one of two children of Deems and Grace Melvin, both middle-school teachers. He attended the local Heritage High School, where he was a strong student and an outstanding athlete. Melvin set his sights on a career in the National Football League, and when he graduated from high school in 1982, he matriculated at the University of Richmond on a football scholarship.

As a wide receiver for the Richmond Spiders, Melvin set a number of school records, including one for number of receptions, some of which continue to stand as of this writing. In his senior year, he was named National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I All-American. He graduated from Richmond in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He entered the National Football League draft and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 but a hamstring injury in ...


Moret, J. Adolph, Jr.  

Lisa M. Bratton

instructor pilot for the Tuskegee Airmen, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Adolph J. Moret Sr., a printer, and Georgianna Perez. Moret grew up in an integrated neighborhood in the Creole community in New Orleans's Seventh Ward, but he attended segregated schools and used segregated public transportation. He attended Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and Xavier Prep Catholic schools in New Orleans. As a pole vaulter in high school, Moret won a bronze medal at the Tuskegee Ninth Relays at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1935.

From 1935 to 1937 Moret attended Xavier University in New Orleans After completing nearly two years of college Moret found employment as a spotter at the Pinkerton Detective Agency the leading agency at that time His primary responsibility was to observe bus drivers to ensure that they placed fares in the designated receptacle This was an uncommon position for ...


Scott, Winston  

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut, was born Winston Elliott Scott in Miami, Florida, to Rubye Scott (maiden name unknown) and Alston Scott. Information about his parents is difficult to come by. What is known is that Scott attended local schools and was a gifted student, showing a particular interest in music. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1968 and matriculated at Florida State University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1972. After graduation Scott's career plans changed, however, and he applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School with the goal of becoming a pilot.

Two years later, in 1974 Scott earned his helicopter wings and went on to serve with the Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 33 unit in northern California Four years later he enrolled in the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California and earned a master s degree in aeronautical ...


Spencer, Chauncey Edward  

J. Todd Moye

aviation pioneer, was born and raised in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Edward Alexander Spencer, a postman and real estate developer, and Anne Bethel (Scales) Spencer, a teacher, librarian, and writer. Anne Spencer was an important, if now little known, poet and editor associated with the Harlem Renaissance and the NAACP. Her Lynchburg home and legendary garden became a way station for eminent blacks traveling between the North and the Deep South at a time when hotel facilities for African Americans were few and far between. From a young age Chauncey Spencer was used to rubbing elbows with celebrities. The likes of W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, and Adam Clayton Powell Sr. were guests in the Spencer home during his youth. “Of all of them, I think I was most impressed by Paul ...


Williams, Archie  

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born Archie Franklin Williams in Oakland, California, the oldest of three children of Wadsworth R. Williams and Lillian Wall Williams. His father worked at the United States mint and died in 1925; his mother worked as a housekeeper and cook. Educated in the Oakland public school system, Williams attended Cole and Peralto elementary schools, Claremont and Edison junior high schools, and University Senior High School. After graduating high school in 1933, Williams entered San Mateo Junior College, completed the two-year degree in one year, and transferred to the University of California Berkeley in 1934.

Beginning in high school Williams participated in track and field, primarily as a quarter-miler, competing in the 440-yard dash and the 4 × 440-yard relay. He began the 1936 track season at UCB with a personal best time of 49 7 seconds in the 440 At the Pacific Coast Conference Championship ...