Black Firsts: History Is Still Being Made

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She Got Wings

Washington, D.C.’s National Guard last month named its first African-American pilot. First Lt. Dina Elosiebo made women’s history and black history in one shot as the Army newest aviator, reports BET.

“This is an extraordinary, historical event for us,” said Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, on the Army’s website. “We’re extremely proud of Lt. Elosiebo. She’s a fine officer, and now, an Army aviator.” He added,  “The diversity of our armed forces is what makes us strong.”

Prior to joining the Army, Elosiebo earned her FAA commercial pilots license and became a certified flight instructor.

“Elosiebo follows in the path of the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American fighter pilots. Before World War II, black pilots were barred from earning their wings in the Army Air Corps. The Pentagon’s rationale was that African-Americans could not be taught to fly. But after being forced to go through pilot training three times before being sent to the fight, they became the best of the best. In the bomber escort missions they flew in Europe, they never lost a bomber,” reports the website.

In fact, Elosiebo has a strong ties to the Tuskegee Airmen. One of her many scholarships was from one of their association chapters, and they gave her support her when she began sought her private pilot’s license at age 19.  And she worked with, and was mentored by former Tuskegee Airmen, including Herbert Jones, who formed the first African-American-owned airline in the U.S.

“When I think about the trailblazers who went before me and the adversity they continuously faced, be it gender, ethnicity, or simply doing what had not been done, it makes me realize I wouldn’t have a story if it wasn’t for them,” Elosiebo said.

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