(December 29, 1912 - January 8, 1994)
Aviation Pioneer - Innovator - Educator – Administrator

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson of Xenia, Ohio was born in Angola, Indiana, December 29, 1912. While in grade school, he constructed model airplanes and read about cross-wind landings in encyclopedias. He had his first ride in an OX5 Swallow in 1927. In 1929, he designed and flew his own hang gliders-biplane and monoplane. At seventeen, he purchased a partially completed Alco Sport Monoplane and installed a motorcycle engine on it. A wind storm destroyed the airplane before it was flown.

In 1930, Jackson began formal flight instruction and by 1932 he had completed seven hours of instruction in a Travelaire, a Waco 10, an American Eaglet, and a Curtiss Jenny converted to a parasol monoplane. Five different pilots provided this instruction, after which Jackson soloed in his own Waco 10 in 1932.

From 1932 to 1937 Jackson barnstormed throughout Indiana and Ohio, earning money to pay his way through college. In 1937 he acquired the Transport Pilot’s License in northern Indiana. In 1939, he was re-rated converting his Transport License to a Commercial License with Instructor Rating. The same year, Jackson earned a B.S. degree in Education at Indiana Wesleyan University, taught public school, and also pursued aviation activities.

In 1940, he joined Cornelius Coffey in the Coffey and Jackson Flying School (Chicago) where several Civil Pilot Training students were taught. Jackson completed advanced acrobatic training at Chicago School of Aeronautics. In October of this same year, he went to Tuskegee where, after teaching all ground school subjects, procuring an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanics License and an Instrument rating, Aerial Navigation, at Turner Air Force Base, Albany, Georgia, and the Civil Aeronautics Administration Cross Country Instructor Course at Northeast Airlines in Boston. 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. As Director, Jackson guided the school to high standards of performance and on three different occasions, the students ranked first when compared to the other twenty-two schools in the Southeast Army Air Corps Training Command.

After the war Jackson moved to Ohio where he became an FAA Flight Examiner and tested over 400 pilots for flight certification from 1947-1960. He developed an aircraft computer called a NAV-KIT which was used by many pilots in obtaining their licenses. Other activities included a multi-engine rating and appointment to the Citizens Advisory Committee, FAA, President of Experimental Aircraft Assoc. Chapter 382 for three years and Experimental Aircraft Association technical adviser as well as membership in Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association and the OX5 Aviation Pioneers.

"An airplane in every garage." That was a goal of Dr. Jackson. Until a few months before his death, he was still working on such a design--a roadable airplane which would accommodate the common man-an airplane which could be stored at home and towed or driven to the airport. In 1956 Dr Jackson created and flew the Versatile I (the first of ten experimental airplanes) 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. In the early 1960’s Dr Jackson created and flew a different experimental plane which folded its wings for land travel. Only 16-feet long, the plane would fit in a garage, once its 12-foot wing span was folded. On the highway it operated like a three-wheel motorcycle, cruising at 35 to 50 MPH. The propeller was behind the passenger compartment in a slot surrounded by body, wings, and tail. This design created enough attention in England to cause the Editors of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft to portray and describe it to their world wide membership of subscribers. Dr Jackson was not able to market any of his experimental airplanes due to either design flaws or the inability to produce the product economically with the level of government regulations to be met.

In 1948, Jackson obtained a Master’s Degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and in December, 1950 a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Ohio State University. The title of his dissertation is A Study Of Aviation Courses and Facilities in Higher Education in the United States with Predictions and Future Trends. He spent a year as Associate Professor of Aviation at Ohio State University. Jackson has also produced an unpublished book entitled, The New Fundamentals of Flight.

Dr. Jackson’s life was also dedicated to education. He began teaching in 1936 in  one-room, eight-grade school. After World War II in 1946, he began teaching at the college level, and served in many college and university administrative positions including Graduate Dean, Dean of Students, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Acting President and President, Central State University, and Acting President and Vice President for Administration at Sinclair Community College.

One of Dr. Jackson’s great interests was in entrepreneurship. In 1974 he fostered the business entrepreneur program at Sinclair Community College. He firmly believed that more students should think as employers and thus be more self- reliant; that, in this way, students would be taught to create employment.

Jackson 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.

Jackson served a number of years as a member of the Greene County Regional Airport Authority and the Board of Directors of the Xenia Area Development Corporation.

In Dr. Jackson’s honor, the airport in Xenia, Ohio is now named the Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport and the main Library at Indiana Wesleyan University is named the Lewis A. Jackson Library.


Moton Field    Tuskegee, Alabama       1942

The U.S. government sponsored African-American flight training in 1939 with the Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) Act. Administered by the Civilian Aeronautics Association (CAA), the Act authorized selected schools to offer CPT primary flight training for pilots in case of a national emergency. Schools for African-American candidates included Tuskegee Institute, Howard University, Hampton Institute, and the Coffey-Jackson School of Aeronautics. The government paid for ground and flight school instruction. Colleges provided instructors, physical examinations for potential students, and transportation to approved flying fields. Tuskegee Institute originally offered elementary or primary CPT courses. In July 1940, the CAA authorized Tuskegee Institute to provide advanced CPT courses and it became the location for the famed Tuskegee Airmen.  African-American civilian pilots came from all over the country to train the recruits to fly.  Their job was to teach them the basics all the way to advanced flying.  They then turned the pilots over to the Army Air Corps to teach them how to fight in the sky.  The Army Air Corps provided the base commander and officers, but the primary training was in the hands of the following gentlemen.


Article written in Cleveland during the early 40’s.  Doesn’t name the civilian trainers but is relevant.



Army Flying School Looks to Future as Noted Institute Turns Out Combat Pilots . . . School Producing Top-Flight Pilots and Ground Forces 

The Tuskegee Army Flying School has the eyes of the world focused upon it, for here has been formed the nucleus of Negro combat pilots and skilled technicians. A little over a year ago, the first Negro cadets began their primary training at the Air Corps Training Detachment, Tuskegee Institute, under the instructions of civilian pilots with Army personnel doing the administrative work. It was during the month of August, 1941, that 12 cadets were being questioned by the nation in editorials with such questions as: Will the first class pull through? Will the program be a success or failure? etc. The initial flying class proved to the world that they, too, could become combat pilots. . . and since the first graduation other cadets are receiving their wings monthly.

Not only is the Tuskegee Army Flying School pinning wings on Negro pilots, but it is steadily producing skilled technicians, air mechanics, photographers, radio operators, weather men, and many other technicians essential to the Army Air Forces.

The flying school is located in South Central Alabama, 13 miles from the famous Tuskegee Institute founded by one of America’s foremost educators, Booker T. Washington. 


To begin with, the engineers had to level several hills. One spot on the field is exactly 54 feet less in elevation than a year ago. Trees had to be uprooted and all vestiges of vegetation of every sort had to be obliterated before mile-long concrete runways could be laid down. In other words, the field now forms a big valley, a man-made valley, a beautiful rolling valley that slopes back up toward the hill. The Headquarters building and the barracks rise on the sloping hillsides, providing as fine a view as one could want to observe. The outstretched runways in the wide valley leading up to the banks of a stream that courses nearby leaves an indelible print upon all that view the site.

It is within this man-made setting that visitors to the base are able to view a modern field in every respect. Some of the largest ships of the nation have landed on the lengthy Tuskegee runways.

The Tuskegee Army Flying School was activated July, 1941. The first troops arrived during the month of October, 1941. The initial ground crew for the then so-called "99th Pursuit Squadron" was composed of men who volunteered their services to the nation, and had been trained at the famous Chanute Field, Illinois. Each man upon his arrival was eager to play his role in building up the first flying school of its kind for Negroes.

The first Commanding Officer of the field was Major James A. Ellison. He was transferred in January, 1942, and Colonel Fred¬erick V. H. Kimble, a West Point graduate with 24 years of flying experience, was assigned as the Commanding Officer of the post. Kimble is now Commanding Officer of the 27th Training Wing and Lieutenant Colonel Noel F. Parrish is now the Commanding Officer. Assisting the Colonel are: Lieutenant Colonel B. O. Davis, Jr., highest ranking Negro officer in the Army Air Forces, is the Executive of Troops; Major Donald S. McPherson, Director of Train¬ing; Lieutenant Colonel John T. Hazard, Executive; Captain Clyde H. Bynum, Adjutant, and others. More than 60 per cent of the total quota of officers at the flying school are Negroes. 


Second Lieutenant Mac Ross, a graduate of the initial flying class in March, 1942, is the youngest Squadron Commander on the field. He is the new C. O. of a newly activated fighter squadron. He is a native of Dayton, Ohio, and completed his undergraduate work at West Virginia State College. He is the first American flying officer to become a member of the Caterpillar Club. As an Aviation Cadet, he achieved a high degree of efficiency as an all-around soldier. Upon becoming Commanding Officer of the 100th Fighter Squadron, he is fast proving himself to be a capable officer in every respect. 


No other ground crew in America has had more favorable publicity than the men of the fighting 99th. In the early part of 1941, a group of high school graduates and college men volun¬teered their services in the Army of the United States to form the foundation crews for the present squadrons that have been activated at the Tuskegee Army Flying School. More than 500 men received training at Rantoul’s Chanute Field, ranging from administrative clerks to master mechanics on the flight line. Be¬fore becoming eligible for the ground crew, the volunteers had to pass a stiff aptitude test, their results determining their training status as a soldier. Today these men are at the school that they had dreamed of for seven long months before it was constructed. They are teaching boys as eager as they were when they volun¬teered in the early months of 1941. The older mechanics on the line always inform the new mechanics of the significance of keeping the plane aloft in good condition, and the responsibility that rests upon the shoulder of the mechanic.

The original ground crew of the 99th can handle and service ships from trainer planes to the difficult P-40. These men know their job and have the confidence of the men who fly the ships they service. They have an exceptionally good safety record. 


Making of aerial photographs is a difficult task. However, at the Tuskegee School of the Air, it is possible for a photograph to be made, processed and ready in less than ten minutes if emergency demands. The post has a complete equipped laboratory with the latest equipment for developing and pictures. 


The Tuskegee Army Flying School’s Station Hospital, under the guidance of Lieutenant Colonel Richard C. Cummings and George McDonald and staff, have developed into a well coordinated phase of the Army life at the sepia school of the air. The different wards are equipped with the best modern equipment obtainable and the efficient staff through experience is capable of performing any major operations. 


Leading other urban centers with flying officers, Clevelanders are prominent on the flight line. Among the flying officers are Second Lieutenant Sidney Brooks, 2275 East 77th St.; Irving Lawrence, 2168 East 90th St.; and Clarence Jamison, 2252 East 85th St.


Indiana Wesleyan University & Other Education

It was Dr. Jackson’s love for higher education that moved his wife, Dr. Violet Jackson, and their two children, Dr. Robert Jackson and Joyce Dixon, to support IWU’s work in developing world-changing students through a major donation toward the building of this state-of-the-art library.

The $11 million facility includes the latest computer technology. Over 20 miles of cables crisscross through the library’s floors, giving students data throughout the library. For those students with wireless laptop PCs, the building allows them to log on over the airwaves.\

This state-of-the-art, 79,000 square foot library’s many features not only provide students with modern conveniences, its unique construction also adds to the beauty of IWU’s growing campus. Features such as its 160-foot glass dome ceiling, and 200-foot x 25-foot arced exterior glass wall have earned the Lewis A. Jackson Library a design achievement award. IWU along with the library’s designer, Design Collaborative, and masonry contractor, Michael Kinder and Sons, were given the award for their efficient and beautiful use of concrete to form the floors, walls and entrances of the library.

In 1939 Lewis A. Jackson received his B.S. degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University, then Marion College. Even before graduating he was teaching in local schools. His love for the classroom would stay with him the rest of his life, and his drive to excel in everything he did would eventually take him to the President’s office at Central State University.