Since its inception in 1967 as a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization, NAI has promoted the inclusion of African Americans in aviation activities through a number of programs, projects and education activities.
The Negro Airmen International, Inc.(NAI)
"Formed in 1967, the NAI is the Oldest African American Civilian Aviation Organization In The Country. Since its creation, NAI members have gone forward to create many of the recent Major African American Aviation Organizations."
EDWARD ALBERTIS GIBBS 1919 - 1969 FOUNDER
EDWARD ALBERTIS GIBBS was born in New York City on December 12, 1919. He attended New York City public schools. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from New York University and a Juris Doctorate Degree from New York Law School.
He completed the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Hampton Institute, after which he earned a commercial pilot certificate with a flight instructor's rating. Ed Gibbs was a flight instructor for the Schumaker Flying Service and taught navigation and regulations at the Coffey School of Aviation in Oaklawn, Illinois (near Chicago)
During World War II, he served as a civilian flight instructor in the U.S. Aviation Cadet Program at the Army Air Corps base at Tuskegee, Alabama, He later taught at the Lyon's Flying Service at Zahn's Airport (now closed) in Amityville, New York. In 1947 he started his own Fixed Base Operation in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he also sponsored the second National Negro Aviation Convention.
He entered the field of Public Housing while in North Carolina as his aviation business suffered due to both overt and covert discrimination and financial sabotage. His career in Public Housing culminated with his appointment as Assistant Commissioner of Federal Code Enforcement for the New York City Housing and Development Administration.
But flying was his first love. He founded the Stick and Rudder Club of New York, Inc. prior to the founding and organizing of Negro Airmen International, Inc. His inability to break the color barriers and his recognition that other black pilots also were unable to make serious inroads in the aviation industry, inspired him in 1967 to call together many of the pilots and friends that he had made during the early training days in Tuskegee, to organize them into a group which would promote aviation in the Black community and provide a support and advocacy group for the youth and those attempting to get on the aviation career ladder.
Before his untimely death in 1969, Ed Gibbs had established an air taxi and maintenance service, West Indies Air Line and Air Service at the Harry S. Truman Airport on the Island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean. This project was the culmination of many years of planning and the realization of a lifelong dream.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Dicy V. Gibbs. His groundwork and planning has provided the foundation upon which N.A.I. has grown from a small group of Tuskegee pilots and instructors to a national organization of thirty-one chapters and hundreds of members.
NAI was founded in February, 1967 to help Americans of African decent to learn about the field of aviation, to create job opportunities, and to encourage more Blacks to go into the field of aviation. NAI is the oldest African American Civilian Aviation Organization in the country. Mr. Edward Albertis Gibbs and several of the Trainers of the famed Tuskegee Airmen were responsible for creating and organizing the NAI and incorporating the organization in New York State in 1967. Many of the present African American Aviation organizations have their roots in NAI. Organizations such as the Tuskegee Airmen Inc, in 1973, The Organization of Black Airline Pilots in 1976 and Black Pilots of America in 1997. NAI is dedicated to breaking the "color" barriers in aviation and to promote the participation of African Americans in the aviation industry.
In 2004, The Marion Park Deaver and the Harry Gilbert Deaver Foundation awarded NAI a grant in the ammount of $ 1,200,000 to provide flight training to inner city young adults who lack funds to attend private flight schools. This is a "first-ever-of-its-kind" project which presently opreates in South Florida. It serves as a proof of concept; to allow the creation and operation of such projects elsewhere in the country. The Foundation also provided additional funds to purchase several aircrafts and to pay for other capital startup expenses. The award is a challenge grant to pay for one-half of the operating expenses for an initial 3 1/2 year trial period. This challenge grant requires NAI to raise funds for the other half of the operating expenses.
The Negro Airmen International, Inc. (NAI) is dedicated to aviation, public education, and international service in support of personal and professional opportunities for Black Americans through aviation.