Perry H. Young Jr. in front of a Sikorsky S-58. Photo Credit: © Linda Young-Ribeiro via Wikimedia Commons.

United States – Perry H. Young Jr., First Black Pilot Hired By Any U.S. Airline

An airplane and helicopter pilot, Perry H. Young Jr. was the first African American to be hired by a commercial airline in the United States on December 17, 1956. His historic flight on February 5, 1957, was from New York-LaGuardia to then New York-Idlewild (now JFK) on a 12-passenger Sikorsky S-58 helicopter for New York Airways; he was the co-pilot. Young initially worked as an instructor for the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.

After the war, and not able to find any jobs in the U.S. due to the color of his skin, he moved to Haiti in 1946 to fly for an airline he and a friend founded. The airline lasted two years. After a few other jobs, he moved to Puerto Rico to work as a pilot for the Water Resources Authority. In 1955, he started applying for airline jobs once more. After much to do and initially being rejected by the regional carrier, New York Airways, he was hired by them as a helicopter pilot. In November 1998, Young, Jr., died in Middleton, NY at the age of 79.