images-4.jpgCharles “Chief” Anderson, or Charles Alfred Anderson, was son of Janie and Iverson Anderson. He was born in Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania on February 9th 1907. He was sent to live with his grandmother in Santon Virginia. As a young kid he developed a huge interest in airplanes and aviation. He was living in Shenandoah Valley. Charles later became the chief flight instructor at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He was the chief of the CPTP or the civilian pilot training program. The program was created which was created by the Vivil Aeronautics Authority in 1939. The program created a handful of black pilots who could be used in an emergency during war time. This CPTP later became the Tuskegee Experiment. This experiment would prove whether or not blacks could become military aviators. Charles guided this experiment for tuskegee to later become the 99th pursuit squadron which later became the very successful 332nd fighter group. They were famous for creating untouchable records such as never loosing a bomber due to enemy aircraft while under their protection.
Most instructors at the time would not take blacks so he was forced to teach himself how to fly and began at the age of 22. He taught himself in a used airplane he bought with savings funds and money borrowed from friends and relatives. He later earned his pilots license in 1929 and even his commercial license in 1932. Charles over the next two years made long distance flights with his friend Dr. Albert E. Forsythe. these two made the first transcontinental round trip flight by black pilots. They flew from Atlantic City to New Jersey, to Los Angeles. This was done without the aid of blind flying instruments, landing lights, parachutes, and radios. The duo made other flights including one to Canada and a Pan American Goodwill Tour over the Caribbean in a plane called the “Spirit of Booker T. Washington”.
These flights made world wide attraction and popularized black aviation. This lead to the Tuskegee Institute to hire Charles as their Chief flying instructor. He was hired to create a pilot instruction program for the school. Tuskegee was one of the six colleges doing the CPTP. Anderson was at one time the only black aviator with a commercial pilots license.
images-3.jpg The first lady Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, was interested in this CPTP. So she took a visit to Tuskegee Institute in 1941. During her visit she asked Charles if blacks could really fly. So Charles took her on a flight around for a half hour and came back to announce the training military aviation for blacks at the Tuskegee Institute.images-1.jpg