August Martin High School

August Harvey “Augie” Martin (1919-1968) was an American pilot. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II and later became the first African American to pilot a commercial aircraft in the United States.

Martin was born in Los Angeles but moved with his family to New York City during his childhood. In 1938, he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. He returned to California to attend San Mateo Junior College and the University of California. While there, he washed airplanes at the Oakland Flying Service to pay for flying lessons.

On January 8, 1940, Martin completed his first solo flight. He continued learning how to fly at the federally sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program at the University of California. There, he earned his flight instructor rating, a qualification that allows pilots to teach flight training. In 1942, he returned to New York and worked as a civilian inspector at the Navy V-12 Program at Cornell University.

In 1943, Martin joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and went to Tuskegee, Alabama, for flight training, earning his wings on September 8, 1945. He was slated to go overseas with his bombardment team, but WWII ended before that took place. In 1946, Martin left the military and looked for a job in commercial aviation, but found it challenging to find a pilot's job as a Black man. He instead worked as an aircraft maintainer at Willis Air Service in Teterboro, N.J. From then until 1955, he was also a part-time pilot for different airlines. When he did not have any flying jobs, he worked as a stevedore on the New York City docks to support his family.

In 1955, Martin joined Seaboard World Airlines as a pilot, becoming the first African American captain of a U.S. air carrier. In 1968, Martin helped establish Negro Airmen International (NAI) with Edward A. Gibbs and other African American pilots. NAI's mission was to foster the inclusion of African Americans in aviation.

After the outbreak of civil war in Nigeria in 1967, Martin volunteered to bring emergency relief supplies into the Biafra region for the International Red Cross. On June 30, 1968, he and his wife Gladys died in a plane crash while attempting to land in Biafra during a rainstorm.

In 1971, the August Martin High School opened on the site of the former Woodrow Wilson High School. The school is known for its aviation training program. Martin was also honored by the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Aviation Administration in 1980 with its publication of the August Martin Activities Book, a 20-page children's book. It was reprinted in 1993.


“Capt. August Martin,”, accessed January 31, 2023,

“Martin, August H. (1919-1968),” Archives at the Museum of Flight, accessed January 31, 2023,

Betty Kaplan Gubert, Miriam Sawyer, Caroline M. Fannin, and Internet Archive, Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science (Westport, Conn.: Oryx Press, 2002),

"August Joseph Martin Memorial,",