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Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States

By: Louisa Jaggar

Shari Becker

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

The inspirational and true story of James Herman Banning, the first African American pilot to fly across the country, comes to life in this picture book biography perfect for fans of Hidden Figures and Little Leaders. Includes art from a Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator.

James Herman Banning always dreamed of touching the sky. But how could a farm boy from Oklahoma find a plane? And how would he learn to fly it? None of the other pilots looked like him.

In a journey that would span 3,300 miles, take twenty-one days, and inspire a nation, James Herman Banning proved that you can't put barriers on dreams. Louisa Jaggar incorporates over seven years of research, including Banning's own writings and an interview with the aviator's great-nephew. She teams up with cowriter Share Becker and award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper to capture Banning's historic flight across the United States.

Author’s note. Quotation sources. Resources. Suggestions for further reading.Full-color oil paint illustrations. 

ISBN: 9781984847638

JLG Release: Mar 2021


Sensitive Areas: Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism
Topics: James Herman Banning (1900–1933) , African American air pilots , Cross-country flying , Thomas Cox Allen (1907–1989) , William J , Powell (1897–1942)

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Horn Book

James Herman Banning, an African American living in Canton, Oklahoma, in the early 1900s, wanted to fly, especially after learning that the Wright Brothers had taken to the skies for sixteen and a half minutes in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in October 1905. At the Excelsior Library (the first Oklahoma library for Blacks), he read about how “flyin James Herman Banning, an African American living in Canton, Oklahoma, in the early 1900s, wanted to fly, especially after learning that the Wright Brothers had taken to the skies for sixteen and a half minutes in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in October 1905. At the Excelsior Library (the first Oklahoma library for Blacks), he read about how “flying machines” stayed aloft. In 1911, young James saw “birdman” Charles Walsh fly at the fair and climbed aboard his craft when no one was looking. After World War I began, Banning attended Iowa State for one year then opened an automobile repair business at age twenty-one, through which he met Lieutenant Raymond Fisher, a pilot, who taught James to fly. Despite racist discrimination and finances that limited his access to the best equipment, Banning, along with Black mechanic Thomas Cox Allen, became the first African American to fly the 3,300 miles from Los Angeles to New York, stopping in towns that would welcome Black aeronauts. Everyone who supported their journey signed the wing of their plane, the Eaglerock. Cooper’s signature illustrations, highly textured oil-on-board, reveal Banning’s passion for flight and his determination to spend as much time as possible in the air. The prominence of brown hues centers Black lives in this story, while equally impressive blues keep readers looking skyward. An entertaining, exquisitely illustrated biography of a Black aeronaut who should be as well known as the Wright Brothers. An author’s note, quotation sources, newspaper articles by Banning, interviews, documents, and further reading are appended. MICHELLE H. MARTIN

Book Details

ISBN

9781984847638

First Release

March 2021

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

B

Trim Size

8" x 11"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Library edition with trade jacket added

Publisher

Crown

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

Topics

James Herman Banning (1900–1933), African American air pilots, Cross-country flying, Thomas Cox Allen (1907–1989), William J, Powell (1897–1942),

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