C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson was born in Pennsylvania and always knew he wanted to fly. Like many underprivileged youth today, there were obstacles to his training—but he overcame them. Realizing no one would teach a black man to fly in the 1920s, he saved up to buy his own airplane, and eventually taught himself to fly.

Anderson earned his pilot's license in 1929 and became the first Black American to receive a commercial pilot's certificate in 1932, and, subsequently, to make a transcontinental flight.

In 1940, he was recruited by the Tuskegee Institute as part of an experimental effort to train black pilots. He helped develop their curriculum, and famously took Eleanor Roosevelt up for a flight, proving to her that a black man could fly and convincing her to encourage her husband to continue the controversial experiment.

Later in his life, Anderson co-founded Negro Airmen International, and established a summer flight academy for youth interested in aviation.

Today, Tuskegee Next continues Anderson’s legacy, preparing urban youth with flight training, life skills, and educational assistance so they can make a career in the aviation industry. Learn more about the program.

Sources: Tuskegee University, Wikipedia