Actions
Begin New Search
Refine Last Search
Cemetery Lookup
Add Burial Records
Help with Find A Grave

Find all Powells in:
 • Los Angeles National Cemetery
 • Los Angeles
 • Los Angeles County
 • California
 • Find A Grave

Top Contributors
Success Stories
Community Forums
Find A Grave Store

Log In
Advertisement
William Jenifer Powell
Birth: Jul. 27, 1897
Henderson
Henderson County
Kentucky, USA
Death: Jul. 12, 1942
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA

Aviator, Social Reformer. He founded the nation's first all-black flying school, launched the nation's first all-black air shows, and inspired African Americans to break racial limits and pursue careers in aviation. He invested his life savings to finance Los Angeles' Bessie Coleman Aero Club; and he recruited and trained some of the future Tuskegee Airmen, the World War II pilots whose segregated squadron would destroy 260 German planes and damage another 148. A Lieutenant in the United States Army during World War I, on the last day of that conflict he inhaled poison gas that left him with lifelong lung damage. In 1927, three months after Charles Lindbergh landed in Paris, Powell took his first airplane ride and his life course was set. He sold his gas stations and headed for Los Angeles to enroll in the Warren School of Aeronautics, the only aviation school that would accept him. In 1929, he joined forces with Irvin E. Wells and James Herman Banning, a barnstormer from Iowa and the nation's first licensed black male pilot, and the three founded the Bessie Coleman Aero Club. Their flying team, called the Blackbirds, staged "All-Negro Air Shows" during the early 1930s. In 1934, he wrote a book, "Black Wings," which promoted black-owned and operated commercial airlines, training schools and aircraft manufacturers. The following year, he produced a documentary film, "Unemployment, the Negro and Aviation" to inspire future airmen; and he sponsored scholarships for black youths who wanted to learn to fly. Sadly, he did not live to witness the heroism of his most distinguished proteges, the Tuskegee Airmen, dying in 1942. (bio by: Shiver) 
 
Burial:
Los Angeles National Cemetery
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
California, USA
Plot: 84, 4/I
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Shiver
Record added: Mar 24, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8553438
William Jenifer Powell
Added by: Shiver
 
William Jenifer Powell
Added by: Shiver
 
William Jenifer Powell
Added by: Mark Masek
 
There is 1 more photo not showing...
Click here to view all images...
Photos may be scaled.
Click on image for full size.


- David Wend
 Added: Jul. 27, 2016

- Curtis Jackson
 Added: May. 4, 2016

-
 Added: Nov. 1, 2015
There are 57 more notes not showing...
Click here to view all notes...
Do you have a photo to add? Click here
How famous was this person?
Current ranking for this person: (4.0 after 32 votes)
 

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service