STL Airport’s Black Americans in Flight mural turns 30

Make sure to see this historic mural at STL Airport

August 13, 2020 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the dedication ceremony unveiling the Black Americans In Flight mural that now hangs in Terminal One (T1) at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL).

The five-panel mural is eight feet tall and 51 feet long. It pays tribute to African-American Achievements in Aviation from 1917 onward.

Included in the historic mural are 75 portraits, 18 aircraft, five unit patches, and one spacecraft.

In 1986 the Committee for the Aviation Mural Project Success (CAMPS) commissioned St. Louis artist Spencer Taylor to create the mural.

The initial assignment was to honor St. Louis African-American pilots that flew in World War II, also known as Tuskegee Airmen. But Taylor worked with another local artist, Solomon Thurman, and expanded the mural to include the much broader story of African-Americans in aviation and the history they made.

Notable people featured in the mural

A few of the notable people you can spot in the mural include:

Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. On September 2, 1941, David became the first African-American to solo an aircraft as an officer of the U.S. Army Air Corp.

Capt. Wendell O. Pruitt. A St. Louis native, Pruitt was one-half of the famed “Gruesome Twosome.” Capt. Pruitt along and Capt. Lee Archer are considered the most successful pair of Tuskegee pilots in terms of air victories. Both men were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Capt. Marcella A. Hayes. Hayes is the first African-American woman to complete U.S. Army pilot training in 1979. Following her training, she became an Army helicopter pilot.

Capt. Edward J. Dwight, Jr.  He is the first African-American candidate for NASA’s space program.

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D. McNair was a specialist aboard the fatal launch of the Challenger space shuttle in January of 1986.

Mae C. Jemison, M.D. She is the first African-American female astronaut.

In 2017, STL held an event to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the mural’s installation. COVID-19 means no formal ceremony or event can take place now, for the 30th anniversary.

If you can’t visit STL right now and see this mural in person, you can find more information about it on the STL website. There’s also a report on the time Lt. Colonel Marcella Ng (formerly Capt. Marcella Hayes) visited St. Louis and got her first chance to see her portrait in the mural and meet with one of the artists.

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