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Magazine Honors Retired American Airlines Pilot

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Captain Dave Harris Receives Award from American Legacy Magazine

Retired American Airlines Captain Dave Harris has received the “2008 Men of Honor and Distinction Award” by American Legacy magazine, a publication geared towards the country’s African American population.

The magazine recently recognized Harris for being the first African American to fly for a major passenger airline. Others receiving the award have included filmmaker Spike Lee and Olympic track and field gold medalist Edwin Moses.

“I’m honored and humbled by this award from American Legacy magazine, but the reality is that there were 500 pilots — Tuskegee Airmen — who were qualified for airline jobs when they left the service,” said Harris. “None of them received an opportunity to sit in a cockpit. There is no way I should be the first; it should’ve happened long before 1964.”

Harris, 73, joined American in 1964 flying the DC-6 aircraft. He retired from American in 1994 as a captain, flying American’s largest airplane at that time, the widebody MD-11.

Harris was featured in a Smithsonian Museum exhibit called “Black Wings.” The American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth, TX has a permanent exhibit honoring Harris. He remains an active member of the Organization of Black Airline Pilots (OBAP).

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