Black aviation leader retired Kansas lawmaker dies at 98

Ulysses Lee “Rip” Gooch, who was a leader in the black aviation industry and Kansas State’s longest-serving senator when he retired at the age of 80, has passed away.

Gooch, also a former Wichita City Council member, died on Wednesday, according to an article on the Jackson Mortuary website. He was 98 years old. No cause of death has been identified.

The Wichita Eagle reports that he is a member of the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, that he is in the inaugural class of the Black Aviation Hall of Fame in Memphis, and that he has logged approximately 20,000 flight hours during his aviation over half a century long. career.

In the late 1950s, Gooch, who was the son of rural Tennessee sharecroppers, also became the first black in Wichita to found and run his own fixed-base aviation operation, which stored and maintained aircraft, offered flying lessons and taking flight exams for the Federal Aviation Administration, according to The Eagle’s news archive.

“Rip was a pioneer and warrior who fought tirelessly for civil rights and paved the way for black leaders in aviation,” the Sedgwick County Democratic Party said in a Facebook post. .

A memorial is planned for December 18 at the Wichita Aviation Museum.

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