Maj. Al Niles, standing, left, was presented the Charles Alfred “Chief” Anderson Award as the Aviator of the Year at the 44th Annual Tuskegee Fly-In May 28 at historic Moton Field, Ala. Niles is cargo branch chief, Investigations Division, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala. He is an Army Aviation Association of America life member, a native of Birmingham, Ala., and graduate of Tuskegee University, Ala.
Niles graduated from U.S. Army Initial Entry Rotary Wing training and the CH-47 qualification course in 1998.
Rae McInnis, standing, right, represented the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, Fort Rucker, Ala., and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence chapter of the Army Aviation Association of America at the award ceremony.
The award is given each year in honor of “Chief” Anderson, who was the first African-American to earn a commercial pilot’s license and is best remembered as the chief flight instructor and mentor of the famed ‘Tuskegee Airmen’ of World War II.
His 40 minute flight with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during her visit to Tuskegee in 1941 was instrumental in the acceptance of the first African-American military pilots in what was known as the ‘Tuskegee Experiment.’
Pictured with Maj. Niles are, from left: Mitchell James, one of the first African-American rotary wing aviators in the U.S. military; Herbert Eugene Carter, an original Tuskegee Airman who flew 77 combat missions in World War II with the 99th Fighter Squadron and Booker Conley, who was in the civil pilot training program at the Tuskegee Institute in 1940, and went on to serve in the infantry with the 92nd Buffalo Division in Italy during World War II.