|Vol. 23 No. 2
Wednesday January 17, 2024
The Man Who Changed Color On The Bridge
If you want to learn about August Martin, the great air cargo pilot who flew for Seaboard World Airlines during the 1950’s, the name August Martin as an internet search, most often comes up as “August” 28, 1963, the day “Martin” Luther King whose birthday we celebrated this past Monday delivered his never to be forgotten “I Have A Dream,” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
August Martin was a gentle man, who would be remembered in history as the first African American to serve as Captain on a U.S. scheduled flag carrier.
Put another way, before “Augie” as his friends called him, there had never been a black airline captain on the bridge of any U.S. airline.
Although he flew for other carriers, including EL AL Israel Airlines and a company called Buffalo Skylines between 1946 and 1955, it was Seaboard World Airlines, an air cargo company, that hired Augie, breaking through a glass ceiling in American aviation.
Air cargo put a great aviation pioneer, who happened to be black, in the left seat.
August Martin, who was born in 1916 had aviation blood in his veins.
He worked all his life to be a pilot, training as a youngster to fly small prop jobs and later during World War II as a front line Mitchell B26 bomber pilot.
He also took training at the Tuskegee, Alabama base, which spawned the legendary black pilots who gained fame as The Tuskegee Air Men.
While awaiting his big break Augie worked as a stevedore on the New York docks to make ends meet.
But when SWA came a-knocking, August Martin was ready.
For the next thirteen years Martin piloted the legendary all-cargo aircraft of SWA, including the Lockheed Constellation, Canadair CL44 swing-tail freighter, Douglas DC-4 and DC-6 among others.
August Martin was not just about breaking through for himself. Augie also gave back big time.
Often, he would donate his off time and vacations, flying supplies to the impoverished in Africa, and other points of emergency and need around the world.
On July 1, 1968 August Martin was killed aboard just such a flight when his cargo-laden aircraft crashed in a blinding rainstorm as he attempted to land in Biafra, Africa.
Today, in modern air cargo circles not much is known or said about August Martin. You can find this children's activity book centered on his life on Amazon, but sadly that is about it . . .
Can't International Air Transport Association (IATA) that has awards and recognizes outstanding performance, or The International Air Cargo Association TIACA Hall of Fame, or The Airforwarders Association and some others, open their hearts and honor Augie?
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Vol. 22 No. 45
A Christmas Story
Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend
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