In 1926 James Herman Banning became the first African American aviator in the United States to obtain a pilot's license FROM the United States.
In 1932, James Banning, accompanied by Thomas C. Allen, became America's first black aviator to fly coast-to-coast.
James Banning and his mechanic Thomas Allen made the historic flight using a plane supplemented with surplus parts. The "Flying Hoboes," as they were affectionately known, made the 3,300 mile trip from Los Angeles, CA to Long Island, NY in 41 hours and 27 minutes aloft.
However, the trip actually required 21 days to complete because the pilots had to raise money for the next leg of the trip each time they stopped
Only four months after his historic flight, Banning was killed in a plane crash during an air show at Camp Kearny military base in San Diego on February 5, 1933.
He was a passenger in a two-seater Travelaire biplane flown by white Navy machinist mate second class Albert Burkhardt, who was at the controls because Banning had been refused use of the airplane [due to his race] by an instructor at the Airtech Flying School. After taking off and climbing four-hundred feet, Albert Burkhardt stalled the plane and entered an unrecoverable tailspin in front of hundreds of horrified spectators.