First Black pilots to make transcontinental flight made stop at Valley Stream

A pair of little-known aviators known as the Flying Hobos soared their own path into the history books.

News 12 Staff

Mar 1, 2022, 3:22 AM

Updated 833 days ago

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A pair of little-known aviators known as the Flying Hobos soared their own path into the history books.
Joshua Stoff, a curator of the Cradle of Aviation Museum, says James Banning was determined to be the first African American aviator to fly coast to coast across the U.S.
Banning took on mechanic Thomas Allen to help him in his mission, and they got an Eaglerock airplane.
The pair started their cross-country journey from Los Angeles with almost no navigational instruments and no radio.
Stoff says the duo was called the Flying Hobos because they flew to towns with large African American populations and raised money to fund the next leg of the flight.
“They landed at Curtiss Field in Valley Stream, Long Island,” Stoff says. “Curtiss Field was actually where Green Acres Mall now. It was actually an airport in the late 20s and right though the 30s.”
The Flying Hobos became the first African American aviators to make a transcontinental flight.
“It was big publicity, especially in all the Black newspapers of the day. They were inspirational to the African American community. They showed what was possible, they show that African American pilots could just be just as good as any other pilots,” Stoff says.


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