Southwest Airlines First African American Pilot Retires

Style Magazine Newswire | 6/16/2017, 12:23 p.m.
When 25-year-old Louis Freeman started as a pilot for Southwest Airlines in 1980, he didn’t know he was the first ...
Louis Freeman

Source: AARP.org

When 25-year-old Louis Freeman started as a pilot for Southwest Airlines in 1980, he didn’t know he was the first black pilot hired by the airline (he later became the first black chief pilot at a major American airline). But it didn’t take him long to figure it out: There simply were no other persons of color in the company’s airplane cockpits. Last week, Freeman retired after 36 years with Southwest, a career that has encompassed his rise to management and the honor of flying the body of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks from Detroit to her funeral in Montgomery, Ala. For his last flight, he got the traditional pilot send-off: steering his plane to its gate through a water cannon arch at Dallas’ Love Field Airport. Five pilots, of the many he has mentored over the years, were among those waiting at the gate to greet him.