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Lewis A. Jackson
Lewis A. Jackson was born on this date in 1912. He was a Black aviator, innovator, educator, and administrator.
He was born in Angola, IN, and while in grade school, he made model airplanes and read about crosswind landings in encyclopedias. At 15, he had his first ride in an OX5 Swallow. Two years later, he designed and flew his hang glider-biplane and monoplane. He also purchased a partially completed Alco Sport Monoplane and installed a motorcycle engine. In 1930, Jackson began formal flight instruction, and by 1932, with five different pilots providing instruction, Jackson soloed in his own Waco 10 airplane.
From 1932 to 1937, he barnstormed throughout Indiana and Ohio, earning money as he acquired a Transport Pilot's License. Jackson's life was dedicated to education as well as aviation. He began teaching in 1936 in a one-room, eight-grade school. In 1939, he was re-rated to a Commercial License with Instructor Rating. That same year, he earned a B.S. in Education at Indiana Wesleyan University. He taught in public schools. But his real love was flying. In 1940, he joined Cornelius Coffey in the Coffey and Jackson Flying School in Chicago and completed advanced acrobatic training at the Chicago School of Aeronautics.
In October of this same year, he went to Tuskegee, where he was appointed Director of Training at the Army Air Corps 66th Flight Training Detachment, which prepared pilots who would eventually fly in the 99th Pursuit Squadron Tuskegee Airmen. As the director, Jackson guided the school to high-performance standards, and on three different occasions, his students ranked first compared to the other 22 schools in the Southeast Army Air Corps Training Command.
After World War II, in 1946, he began teaching at the college level. He served in many college and university administrative positions, including Graduate Dean, Dean of Students, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Acting President and President at Central State University, and Acting President and Vice President for Administration at Sinclair Community College. As an FAA Flight Examiner, I tested over 400 pilots for flight certification from 1947-1960.
He developed an aircraft computer called a NAV-KIT, which many pilots used in obtaining their licenses. His other activities and successes included a multi-engine rating and appointment to the Citizens Advisory Committee, FAA, and President of the Experimental Aircraft Association. In 1948, Jackson received his Master's Degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and in 1950, a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Ohio State University. The title of his dissertation was “A Study of Aviation Courses and Facilities in Higher Education in the United States with Predictions and Future Trends.” He spent a year as an associate professor of Aviation at Ohio State University and wrote an unpublished book titled "The New Fundamentals of Flight."
In 1956, Dr. Jackson created and flew the Versatile I (the first of ten experimental airplanes), which was developed to serve as both an airplane and a car. The idea was to drive it to the airport, take off, return, and then drive it home. Another of Dr. Jackson's great interests was entrepreneurship. In 1974, he fostered the business entrepreneur program at Sinclair Community College. He felt that more students should think as employers and thus be more self-reliant; in this way, students would be taught to create employment. He received many honors: Distinguished Alumnus Award, Indiana Wesleyan University Alumni Association; Frontier Award, First Frontier Inc.; Pioneer, Achievement, Trail Blazer Award, Links, Inc.; Special Recognition, Ohio Department of Transportation, Division of Aviation and Federal Aviation Administration; Certificate of Appreciation, Xenia Area Development Corporation.
He served several years as a member of the Greene County Regional Airport Authority and the Board of Directors of the Xenia Area Development Corporation. "An airplane in every garage" was a goal of Dr. Jackson. Until a few months before his death, he was still working on a design that would accommodate the common man's airplane, which could be stored at home and towed or driven to the airport. Lewis Jackson died on January 8, 1994.