Ames urges residents to rename airport after pioneer pilot

Ames City Council is seeking comments on the naming of Ames City Airport on James Herman bans Ames Municipal Airport. Comments are requested by Thursday, to be included in the discussion scheduled for the September 27 city council meeting.

The city does not accept other names for the airport.

Who was James Banning?

Former Ames resident James Herman Banning was an African-American pilot and aviation pioneer. He was born in Oklahoma on November 5, 1899.

Banning’s family moved to Ames in 1919, and Banning began studying engineering at Iowa State University.

After:Towns in Two Story County will vote on funding for library expansion in a special election on Tuesday

Over the next year, Banning took his first airplane flight, ended his studies, and decided to pursue aviation. He was denied entry to flight schools because of his race, but learned to fly through private lessons at Raymond Fisher Flying Field in Des Moines.

From 1922 to 1928, Banning owned and operated an automobile repair shop in Ames. He became the first African American in the United States to earn a federal pilot’s license.

In 1929 Banning left Iowa to take up a position as chief instructor at the Bessie Coleman Aero Club aviation school for African Americans in Los Angeles. This school is named after the first female black licensed pilot.

After:Ada Hayden of Ames opens an accessible boat launch for kayaks and canoes, one of the few available in Iowa

There Banning bought her own biplane and named it “Miss Ames”.

Banning and Thomas Cox Allen of Oklahoma City united in 1932 to become the first African Americans to fly coast to coast. They left Los Angeles on September 18, 1932 and arrived in Long Island, New York on October 9, 1932.

They traveled 3,300 miles in 21 days with a flight time of 42 hours. A few months later, Banning was killed as a passenger on a plane that crashed during an air show in San Diego on February 5, 1933.

After:Letters to the Editor: Watering the Lawn and Renaming the Airport

He was 34 years old.

“I think it’s time for Ames to give some of our most impressive residents of color substantial recognition,” said City Council member Gloria Betcher. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

How Ames Residents Can Leave Feedback

Residents can leave comments on the city website to or by Public Works Management Analyst McKinlee Ritter.

Additionally, feedback will be collected from the city’s social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

After:Crumbl Cookies is coming to Ames next week. Here’s what you need to know.

After:The UIS is touting some successes amid continued declining pre-COVID-19 enrollment. What are the trends ?

Teresa Kay Albertson covers crime, courts and local government in Ames and central Iowa for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Registry. Contact her at [email protected] or 515-419-6098.

Comments are closed.