Tag Archives: tuskegee airmen

HBCU Money™ B-School: How To Start An Airline


How many HBCU owned airlines are there in America? Zero. How many African American owned airlines are there in America? Zero. In Africa, the story is quite different with a number of airlines popping up over the past five years in the ownership hands of native Africans. So it appears we have some catching up to do with our brethren in the motherland. Given HBCUs are often flush with engineering talent, one HBCU owned airline alone could create massive job opportunities. Jet Blue employs almost 14 000 people and is one of the smallest low fare regional airlines, while one of the bigger regional players Southwest Airlines employs almost 50 000.

However, starting an airline is not for the faint of heart and maybe one of the hardest entrepreneurial challenges one can take on. Boeing’s airline startup page says, “Few businesses have as many variables and challenges as airlines. They are capital-intensive. Competition is fierce. Airlines are fossil fuel dependent and often at the mercy of fuel price volatility. Operations are labor intensive and subject to government control and political influence. And a lot depends on the weather.” However, if you are up to the challenge of finding a niche in the space, then you are on your way to creating a multi-billion company since the industry average of value is $2.7 billion (below) according to Yahoo Finance.

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So visit Startup Boeing’s website here and as the Nat King Cole song says and quoted in the Tuskegee Airmen movie of 1995, “Straighten up and fly right.”

HBCU Money™ Business Book Feature – Black Horizons: One Aviator’s Experience in the Post-Tuskegee Era


Black Horizons is the memoir of an orphan who went from the bottom to become a pioneering aviator, businessman and politician in the post-Tuskegee Airmen era.

As a poor African-American youngster picking cotton in a 1930s Tennessee field, U.L. Rip Gooch would look to the sky as airplanes flew overhead and think about escaping to a better life. Soon after World War II, he earned his pilot’s license with “Chief” C. Alfred Anderson, but found that racist hiring practices among airlines and other companies did not allow employment of black aviators, even those who gained fame as Tuskegee Airmen.

Rip fought back using business principles instead of violence. In time he built a million-dollar aviation business selling Mooney Aircraft in the Air Capital of the World (Wichita, Kansas), accrued 20,000 flight hours, and became one of the few black politicians in one of the most conservative states in the nation.