RIP – Thank you for blazing a path.
Ms. Gladys B. Otey is a true aviation pioneer. I first met Ms. Otey in September 2013 at a daylong tribute honoring Maryland’s Black aviation pioneers. The honorees were recognized for their significant contributions to the field of general aviation and their work to keep the dream of aviation alive for African Americans.
During the morning ceremony at the Columbia Air Center — the location of the first black owned airfield in Maryland and perhaps in the nation, Ms. Otey totally captivated my attention with her riveting flying stories. As a Howard University student, she trained and flew her first solo at the Columbia Air Center in 1948.
The flying adventures of this young, female pilot of color became more challenging as she flew cross-country flights out of the local area. You can only imagine how routine items like aircraft servicing and maintenance could quickly become unmanageable. Ms. Otey even had her original logbook with her and I thoroughly enjoyed reading entries from more that six decades ago. I experienced living history at its finest.
Ms. Otey was honored as a trail-blazing pioneer at the Columbia Air Center (above) and later that day at a luncheon in FT Washington, MD. Ms. Otey is still busy and active as an aviation advocate and I’m happy to count her within my circle of aviation friends and supporters.