For Black History Month, the AFRO presents a series of articles highlighting important local heroes from the archives. This week we spotlight Fredrick M. A. Pitcher, who was the first Black man to be a pilot for Western Air Lines.

Los Angeles – Fredrick M. A. Pitcher, 34, of Los Angeles, has completed training as a flight officer for Western Air Lines, assigned to Western’s Los Angeles base.

A native of Washington, D.C., he is the first colored pilot to qualify in the W.A.L. training program.

Pitcher attended Howard University and the University of Pennsylvania. From 1950 to 1954 he flew with a U.S. Navy anti-submarine squadron patrolling the East Coast.

He is a qualified aircraft and powerplant mechanic and worked at his craft for Western Air Lines. Prior to his flight assignment as a second officer on a 122-passenger Boeing 720B fanjet.

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He also was the first colored graduate of the flight engineers’ ground school, Fowler Aeronautical, Burbank, Calif.

During a 16-month stay in Alaska, Pitcher operated KFAR-TV broadcasting station and while with the Burroughs Corporation, he established overseas computer training schools for the MFS Division.

A student of languages, Pitcher’s interests also include photography, sports, music, electronic design and aircraft design. He holds various technical ratings in radio, radio-telephone and radar operation.

His mother, Mrs. Sylvia Pitcher-Hardy resides at 412 “O” Street N.W., Washington, D.C., and is locally recognized for her work with the O Street civic organization.