Dedication Ceremony: Airport renaming
Mayor John Haila and the Ames City Council will host a dedication ceremony for the renaming of the James Herman Banning Ames Municipal Airport. The celebration will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 17, at the front entrance of the airport, 2520 Airport Drive. The public is encouraged to attend.
James Herman Banning, who moved to Ames in 1919 to attend Iowa State College, was the first African American to receive his pilot’s license from the U.S. Department of Commerce. His flight instructor was WWI veteran Lt. Raymond Fisher, who agreed to train Banning after he had been rejected by several flight schools. Banning and mechanic Thomas C. Allen were the first African Americans to complete a transcontinental flight.
Banning developed his love for flying while living in Ames and named his plane “Miss Ames.” While Banning lived in Ames, he owned and operated an auto repair shop. Banning moved to Los Angeles in 1929 when he was recruited to be the chief pilot for the Bessie Coleman Aero Club. He died in a plane crash in San Diego in February 1933 while flying as a passenger. He is buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Los Angeles.
Speaking at the dedication will be Banning’s great nephew Christopher A. Hart, who will share information about Banning and his legacy in aviation. Hart, a pilot and a safety consultant, served as the 13th chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board from 2014 to 2017 and is currently chairman of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. He holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.
The ceremony will be followed by a reception in the airport terminal, with light refreshments served. A new display featuring Banning and other historic Ames aviators will be installed in the terminal prior to the renaming ceremony.
Following the Banning Dedication Ceremony, participants are invited to attend the NAACP’s second annual Juneteenth Celebration from noon to 4:30 p.m. at Bandshell Park, which includes live music, food trucks, arts and crafts, games, face painting, and more. A presentation of a play about Banning will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Durham Bandshell stage. All events are free and open to the public.