Luke Weathers Historical Plaque Unveiled at Memphis International
The life and accomplishments of Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers Jr. (the FAA's first African-American air traffic control specialist in Memphis and a decorated pilot who flew with the Tuskegee Airmen) were recently honored with a plaque and ceremony at Memphis International Airport.
Acting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta joined Rep. Steve Cohen and the Weathers family in unveiling the plaque in the Memphis Aviation History display at the east end of the terminal. Weathers died in October 2011 at age 90.
"Lt. Col. Luke J. Weathers Jr. was a true aviation pioneer. Through his quarter century of distinguished service with the FAA, he forged a path for African-Americans who joined the agency's air traffic ranks and went on to make important contributions to the agency's mission and leadership," Acting Administrator Huerta said.
Weathers began his FAA career as an air traffic specialist in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1960. He returned to his hometown in 1965 to work at the now-closed Memphis Flight Service Station. In the mid-1970s, Weathers transferred to the FAA's Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, where he worked at the Regional Operations Center. He later moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked at FAA Headquarters as a communications specialist. He retired in 1985.
"Lt. Col. Luke Weathers was a hero and a trailblazer who deserves recognition for his many accomplishments, which include serving as an original Red Tails pilot during World War II and helping integrate both the FAA in Memphis and his church, St. Therese - Little Flower Catholic Church," said Rep. Cohen. "This plaque not only recognizes Lt. Col. Weathers for his heroic acts during WWII, but his heroic life which has a lasting impact on Memphis, the United States and the world."
Weathers began active duty in the Army Air Corps in April 1943 as a fighter pilot who flew P-51 Mustangs and P-39 Airacobras in the 302nd Fighter Squadron. The squadron later merged with the 332nd fighter division - also known as the 'Red Tails,' a reference to the pilots' practice of painting the tails of their planes red. In a nod to his hometown, Weathers named his plane 'The Spirit of Beale Street.' During the war, Weathers flew in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross, as well as an Air Medal with seven Oak Leaf Clusters, an American Theater Ribbon, and a WWII Victory Medal. In 2007, Weathers received the Congressional Gold Medal with 300 of the other original Tuskegee Airmen.