Tag Archives: aviation

Luke J. Weathers, Jr.

Luke Weathers Jr

As Veterans Day approaches, it seems like a great time to talk about Luke Weathers, Jr.

Tuskegee Airmen

As one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Lt. Col. Luke Weathers, Jr., received the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with seven clusters for the dozens of missions he flew over Europe and North Africa during World War II.  He was honored with a parade on Beale Street for “Luke Weathers Day” on June 25, 1945, and received the keys to the city — all part of a larger effort to raise money for the war effort.  The campaign raised enough to pay for a B-24 Liberator, and it was named “The Spirit of Beale Street” in honor of the community that funded it.

George W Lee and Luke Weathers

After the war, Lt. Col. Weathers continued to break barriers, becoming the first African-American air traffic controller at the Memphis Airport, and helping to bring other minorities into the field.

Luke Weathers at home

Lt. Col. Weathers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 20, 2012, with the full honors he deserved: a four-jet flyover in “missing man” formation, a horse-drawn caisson, a 21-gun salute, and the playing of “Taps.” We are extremely grateful to the Weathers family, especially his son, Luke III, for sharing these photos and stories with us.

Horsedrawn caisson at Arlington burial

Click here to view all of the images in Dig Memphis related to Luke Weathers, Jr.

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Filed under Black History, Did You Know?, Military History

Celeste Rhea WWI Scrapbook

Celeste Rhea Scrapbook

Around 1919, sixteen-year-old Celeste Rhea (later Sugg) made a scrapbook which showcased her relationship with her boyfriend Bobby, a pilot from New Jersey.  According to her granddaughter Theresa Adams Corbett, Bobby proposed to Celeste, but Celeste said “No” because she was too young and he was from New Jersey.  (No offense, New Jerseyites…)

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The scrapbook features photographs of her soldier friends, airplane hangars, trips to city parks, planes in flight and downtown Memphis.

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Pages from that scrapbook are now available on Dig Memphis, as are the individual photographs from each page.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Dig Memphis, Memphis History, Photographs

Did You Know?

Did you know that a Memphis aviatrix cured deafness with her flying?

Mrs. C.C. Bradbury was “cured” of her almost total hearing loss when her ears popped during a 1932 flight with Emma Harbin, a well-known aviatrix and stunt pilot.  Following this newspaper story, Mrs. Harbin received numerous requests from Mid-Southerners with hearing impairments.  I’ve yet to find a record of another miraculous cure, but I’ll keep an eye out.

To learn more about Emma Harbin, click here.

Or, come by and check out the Marie Conner Aviation History Collection.

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Filed under Did You Know?, Portraits