Gilbert A. Cargill
June 4, 1916 – July 15, 2004
Tuskegee Airman, Aviation Pioneer.
Gilbert Cargill encountered his first airplane as a youth in Oberlin, Ohio, when a biplane landed in his neighbor’s back yard. From that point on, he dreamed of becoming a pilot, and after that first encounter, he set out to fly.
However, following that dream of becoming a pilot was harder than he thought. At the time there weren’t any black pilots in the United States, which made it hard to find a school that would instruct him in aviation. Instead, he enrolled in Oberlin College earning a degree in mathematics and physics. Then in 1939, he enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and from there found his way into the Army.
During World War II, he served as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black pilots program at Moton Field in Alabama. There he was a primary flight instructor and trained many of the 992 African-American combat pilots.
After the war, he taught in Cleveland public schools until 1966 when he moved to Detroit. He taught math and physics, along with air sciences, at Benjamin O. Davis High School. He also was a civilian flight instructor, and the first black man to be appointed a pilot examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration in Michigan, serving as chairman of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission.
He retired from teaching in 1987 after suffering a stroke. In 1997 he moved back to Cleveland to be close to family members.
He died in his sleep at the age of 88. Survivors include two sons, Thomas and Gilbert; and four grandchildren