James Herman Banning (1900–1933) was an American aviation pioneer. In 1932, James Banning, accompanied by Thomas C. Allen, became America's first black aviator to fly coast-to-coast.
Dreaming from boyhood of being a pilot, Banning eventually learned to fly from an army aviator after being repeatedly turned away from flight schools due to his race. He later became a demonstration pilot on the west coast, flying a biplane named "Miss Ames" (he had attended Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa).
Read more about James Banning at Engines of Our Ingenuity, episode number 2230, by John H. Lienhard, free from the University of Houston .
James Banning and his mechanic Thomas Allen made the historic flight using a plane supplemented with surplus parts; the "Flying Hobos" — as they were affectionately known — made the 3,300 mile trip in 41 hours and 27 minutes aloft. However, the trip actually required 21 days to complete because the pilots had to raise money for the next leg of the trip each time they stopped.
Banning was killed in a plane crash during an air show in San Diego in 1933. He was a passenger in a biplane flown by a Navy pilot, which stalled and entered an unrecoverable spin in front of hundreds of horrified spectators.