Warren Wheeler was the first African American to own an airline in 1969 when he founded Wheeler Airlines. The airline flew more than 40,000 passengers annually. Wheeler was born on October 1, 1943, in Durham, North Carolina. Wheeler’s sister, was the catalyst for his interest in flying. She actually started taking flying lessons before him. She took him on an airplane ride which piqued his interest in flying. He then began to take lessons and received his private pilots license at age 15. Wheeler enrolled in American Flyers School in Oklahoma and obtained his commercial pilots license at age 19. It was now 1962. No airline would hire Wheeler as a pilot due to racism and segregation. His young age also proved to be a barrier in getting employment as an airline pilot. There were no African American pilots working for major airlines at that time. Many whites believed that blacks did not have the skill to fly.
Originally posted on The Black Mail Blog, Dec. 17, 2015. Read the full article