Lewis A. Jackson (1912-1994)

Dr. Lewis Jackson as Director of Flight at Tuskegee
Dr. Lewis Jackson as Director of Flight at Tuskegee
Photo from greencountyohio.gov (Fair use)

Lewis A. Jackson was a Black aviator, Tuskegee Airman Instructor, and later an HCBU president. Jackson was born on December 29, 1912, to unnamed parents in Angola, Indiana. At eight, Jackson started working to contribute to his family’s income. He also constructed model airplanes and read about crosswind landings in encyclopedias. In 1927, at the age of 15, he had his first flight in an OX5 Swallow. In 1929, Jackson designed and flew how to own hang gliders, biplanes, and monoplanes.

Jackson began formal flight instruction in 1930 at the age of 17. By 1932, he had completed seven hours of instruction in a Travelaire, a Waco 10, an American Eaglet, and a Curtiss Jenny converted to a parasol monoplane. In 1937, he acquired the Transport Pilot’s License in Northern Indiana, and two years later, he qualified as a commercial pilot with an instructor rating. That same year (1939), Jackson earned a Bachelor of Science in education at Indiana Wesleyan University and then taught in Chicago public schools.

In 1940, Jackson joined Cornelius Coffey to create the Coffey and Jackson Flying School (Chicago). He later completed advanced acrobatic training at the Chicago School of Aeronautics and then moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, that same year, where he earned an Airframe and Power plant mechanics license. He also took coursework in aerial navigation in Georgia and the Civil Aeronautics Administration Cross Country Instructor Course in Boston, Massachusetts.

Because of his extensive flight training, Jackson was appointed Director of Training at the Army Air Corps 66th Flight Training Department for the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first Black military aviation squadron affiliated with the Tuskegee Airmen.

After World War II ended, Jackson moved to Wilberforce, Ohio, to teach at Wilberforce College and then Central State University, which was also located in Wilberforce. While there, Jackson became an FAA Flight Examiner and developed a NAV-KIT aircraft computer. He also served as the FAA Citizens Advisory Committee member and the Experimental Aircraft Association president and was a member of both the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Aviation Pioneers.

Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes
Dr. Jackson and his experimental airplanes. Photo from greencountyohio.gov (Fair use)

In 1948, Jackson obtained a master’s degree from Miami University in Ohio, and two years later, he received his Ph.D. in education from Ohio State University. Jackson would serve in many college and university administrative positions, including Graduate Dean, Dean of Students, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Acting President and then President at Central State University. He was also Acting President and Vice President for Administration at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

In 1974, Jackson established a business entrepreneur program at Sinclair Community College partly because he believed students should think like employers and learn how to create employment opportunities for others. Jackson served several years as a member of the Greene County Regional Airport Authority and the Board of Directors of the Xenia (Ohio) Area Development Corporation. During his lifetime, Dr. Jackson received many awards, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni Association, and the Frontier Award.

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson died on January 8, 1994, at the age of 81. An airport in Xenia, Ohio, was named the Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport in his honor. The main Library at Indiana Wesleyan University is called the Lewis A. Jackson Library.