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He was training to become a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first military program for African-American pilots.
She was the bold, daring woman who caught his eye. At 18, she’d become the first black woman in Alabama to earn a pilot’s license. She had hopes of becoming a military pilot, too.
Flying was intoxicating. It provided Herbert and Mildred a sense of freedom — to be themselves, to dream big. The in-your-face racism of the segregated South was gone, if only for a while. In the air, the sky was literally the limit.
It takes pioneers to force change. Herbert and Mildred would play their part in the years ahead. But in those early days, they didn’t see themselves as trailblazers. They were young and in love.
More than anything, flight provided a rare opportunity to see each other. He’d call her up on Fridays: “Are you gonna be flying this weekend?”
“Of course,” she’d say.
They’d pick a time to meet. Their rendezvous point: 3,000 feet above a bridge at Lake Martin, 25 miles away. He’d be flying a repaired AT6 trainer. She’d be in a much slower Piper J-3 Cub.
“When I’d get to Lake Martin, I’d see this bright yellow Cub putt-putting along,” he said. “I’d be real proud: She was on time and on target.”
He’d pull down and fly in formation with her. They couldn’t communicate by radio; her Cub didn’t have one. All they could do was smile, wave and blow kisses.
See original article:
A Midair Courtship: Tuskegee’s Historic Love Story