African American Pioneers of Flight exhibit at Evergreen Museum

A Smithsonian exhibition examining African American contributions in aviation will be on display at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore., from May 12 through Aug. 5. Presented by the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, “Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight” examines the contributions of some of the most important African American aviators from the past and present who helped make the dream of careers in flight and space exploration possible. The Black Wings exhibit will be located in the lobby of the Evergreen Theater and will be free to visitors.

The exhibition’s national tour is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), and was made possible by the support of the MetLife Foundation.

Divided into six sections, “Black Wings” chronicles the evolution of aviation through the stories of African Americans who dreamed of flight, left their mark and helped pave the way for those who would follow. Two of the many figures presented in this exhibition are Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to obtain her pilot’s license, and aviator William J. Powell, who led an ambitious program to promote aviation in the African American community. Other aviators whose contributions are explored include the Tuskegee Airmen — the first military division of African American pilots who fought in World War I I— and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to fly in space.

The exhibition is based on the book “Black Wings: Courageous Stories of African Americans in Aviation and Space History” (HarperCollins, 2008) written by exhibition curator Von Hardesty of the National Air and Space Museum.

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is best known as the home of the world’s largest wooden flying boat, the “Spruce Goose,” the SR-71 “Blackbird,” and the Titan II SLV Missile. In addition, there are more than 200 historic aircraft, spacecraft and exhibits on display, along with artwork and traveling exhibits. The Museum values its educational partnerships, which include the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, the Oregon Space Consortium, the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program and more.

In June 2011, the Museum opened the Wings & Waves Waterpark, an educational waterpark that will include four waterslides, a wave pool and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water.

The museu is located at 490 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, across the highway from the McMinnville Airport and about three miles southeast of McMinnville, Ore., on Highway 18. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information: 503-434-4180 or



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