Want to know a little more trivia about Southwest? One of their pilots happened to be the first African American chief pilot of any major airline. Captain Louis Freeman became chief pilot in 1992 marking a cornerstone in aviation history. Yet this was not his only major feat in African American history.
Born on June 12, 1952, Captain Freeman grew up in Dallas, Texas. He and his brother were two of the first African American high school students to integrate Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. During his tenure he was the first black assistant drum major as well as the first black cadet corps commander in the school’s ROTC program. After graduation, he attended East Texas State University where he continued to make history, where, again, he was the first ROTC black cadet corps commander. Captain Freeman graduated in 1974 with a bachelor’s in sociology and psychology.
Upon completing his degree, he joined the United States Air Force. Freeman’s accomplishments did not end there. He was the first African American to attend the U.S. Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training Program located at Reese Air Force Base outside of Lubbock, Texas. Freeman went on to fly T-43′s with the 454th Flying Training Squadron at Mather Air Force Base in California until he resigned his commission to convert to commercial aviation.
Hired in 1980, Captain Freeman was the first African American pilot to work for SWA. Still flying for SWA, Captain Freeman has also been instrumental in creating the company’s “Adopt-A-Pilot” program along with the U.S. Secretary of Education. The program targets students who are eager to learn about geography, science, aviation, mathematics, science, and technology.
Blue skies Captain Freeman. The aviation industry is fortunate to have such an inspirational figure.