Lambert Airport honors black pilot pioneers | St. Louis Public Radio

Lambert Airport honors black pilot pioneers

Feb 16, 2012

Lambert Airport is honoring African American pilots who broke color barriers in the sky with a re-dedication of its mural “Black Americans in Flight.”

Solomon Thurman, one of the mural's co-artists, said the five-panel mural depicts the aviation achievements of African Americans from WWI to the NASA shuttle mission. 

"St. Louis is the only place where you can see an encapsulated story of the Tuskegee Airmen," he said. "There are many Tuskegee paintings around the country and perhaps around the world, but none tell the cohesive story."

High school students, including junior ROTC cadets, were at the rededication ceremony, which coincides with Black History Month. It included a history lesson from former Tuskegee airman Chris Newman, who is from St. Louis.

Newman says he discovered his dream to fly during a parade in downtown St. Louis.

“An old airplane flew down low over the crowd," he said. "Somebody told me that was Lindbergh. So, I got a thrill out of Lindbergh. That was my start. And, I've always wanted to fly,” said Newman.

 Newman's portrait appears on the mural's fourth panel, which is dedicated to St. Louis pilots who flew during WWII. The mural was first dedicated in 1990.