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Gilbert A. Cargill

Gilbert A. Cargill


Gilbert A. Cargill was born in Oberlin, Ohio on June 4, 1916. He had at all times encouraged minority youth to enter aviation as a career while striving to set an example by maintaining the highest level of professionalism and safety.

He graduated from Oberlin College in 1937 with a major in mathematics and a minor in physics and soon began teaching in Cleveland. In 1941 his childhood dream of obtaining his pilot's license was finally allowed to become a reality through the government sponsored Civilian Pilot Training Program. In August, 1941 Mr. Cargill obtained his long awaited pilots license and continued on to receive his commercial license with an instructor rating in October 1942. In January 1943 he moved up to military flight instructor, flying Stearman PT-17s and AT-6s. In 1967, he moved to Troy, Michigan to become a flight instructor, and in October of that year he began teaching mathematics at Aero Mechanics High School. For many years he taught ground school to students after school on his own time.

In October 1972 the FAA appointed Cargill to be the first black designated pilot examiner in Michigan. He was appointed a safety counselor in 1975 and was subsequently honored in 1981 by the Great Lakes Regional FAA for outstanding support of the Safety Counseling Program. In September 1975 he obtained his coveted ATP certificate.

He was appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission in 1985 by the Gov. James Blanchard, serving as chairman in 1988, and was reappointed for a second term. He has also been an active member of the Negro Airmen International (NAI) for many years, including serving two years as national president.

In June 1987 Cargill and a friend, John McFarlin, made a historic flight from Detroit to London, England in a Cessna 210 in a total flight time of 25 hours.

Cargill was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for his unending and tireless commitment to the advancement of aviation through education of the next generation. He died July 16, 2004 in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program