PACC Early Aviators Charles Wesley Peters

Prior to World War II, opportunities in aviation and the dream of flight evolved separately for Blacks than it did for Whites. Due to segregation, lack of planes and access to aeronautical schools, aviation would take a great deal of effort on their part to achieve.

At the turn of the 20th Century, powered flight was in its infancy. The first successful recorded flight was made by the Wright Brothers at Kill Devil Hills, NC in 1903. In 1911, just eight years later Charles Wesley Peters, an African-American, born in Virginia (1889) and living in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania flew a plane of his own design and construction at the Georgia Negro State Fair. The event was recorded by the Macon Daily Telegraph and Pittsburg Dispatch, headed: “Negro Aviator to Fly … Pittsburgher will Entertain Colored Fair in Georgia,” dated September 26, 1911.

For more information on African-American achievements in flight, visit our online exhibit at, entry by GE Barbour, p 97-98

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Note: The Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum, part of the City of Portsmouth’s Museums Department, is mounting an exhibit about Black Baseball in Portsmouth, Virginia in the 1940s, ’50, and ‘60s. We would like to include any information or artifacts that YOU might have related to this subject from that time period. If you have any items such as photographs, baseball caps, uniforms, tickets, ephemera, or anything else related to the history of baseball in the African American community in Portsmouth, or players who were from Portsmouth, please contact the Museums Department’s History Division at 757-393-8591, or email Diane Cripps, Curator of History at We would be honored to share your history through our exhibit!