Tulsa International Airport in partnership with Greatest Stories Never Told held an event today that featured a Living History performance and viewing of the Fly with Banning exhibit. The exhibit features the story of James Herman Banning, the Oklahoma aviation hero who was the first African American to fly across the United States and receive a U.S. Department of Commerce pilot’s license.
The exhibit is made possible through the support of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, Garver, Christiansen Aviation and the Oklahoma Humanities Council. It is located pre-security in Schwab Hall near the rental car counters and will be on display at the airport until March 31, 2018, where it will then travel to other states along Banning’s original route as part of its traveling tour.
“Fly with Banning tells a story that is not often included in history books. Banning was an important member of the early era of flight, but barely anyone has even heard of him,” said Pat Smith, Director of Greatest Stories Never Told. “He flew during a time when mainstream newspapers were just not reporting on the accomplishments of minorities and women.”
The exhibition was created by a non-profit called Greatest Stories Never Told, based out of Oklahoma, where Banning was born. Creators Pat Smith and Louisa Jaggar conducted extensive research on Banning, consulting experts in African American and aviation history along with relatives of Banning. They created four living history videos, the Fly with Banning traveling exhibition and even a play, the Eaglerock.
The Fly with Banning exhibit becomes part of a growing effort by Tulsa International Airport to highlight cultural aspects of the Tulsa community in a manner that engages and inspires travelers on their journey. “The airport is excited to host this exhibit that not only engages children with aviation, but provides an inspirational story for our passengers,” said Mark VanLoh, Airports CEO. “Travelers and locals alike will be able to learn more about Banning and his Oklahoma roots and hopefully leave the exhibit feeling inspired.”
Airport art exhibits are approved by Tulsa International Airport’s Cultural Advisory Group, who develops strategic plans for incorporating art and cultural exhibits in areas throughout the terminal to showcase local artists, galleries and museums.