Neal Loving is widely thought to be the first African-American member of the Engineer’s
Club of Dayton, having joined the organization in the mid-1960’s as an aerospace
engineer working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Loving believed himself to have
been the first, and considered it one of his many milestone achievements.
Other reports surface of an African-American City or County engineer who may have
been a member of the Engineers Club in the early 1950’s. Further research is needed
to verify this.
Although the Engineers Club may not have specifically excluded blacks from membership,
the engineering profession remains overwhelmingly white and male to this day. The
Club first opened its doors to a female aeronautics engineer in 1936, Maude Elsa
Gardner. In 1990-91, Dr. Clark Beck served as the first African-American president
of the Engineers Club of Dayton. By both Loving’s and Beck’s own accounts, blacks
were discouraged from entering either aviation or engineering fields, on the premise
that employment would be closed to people of color. In more recent years, the Club
has expanded its membership to include all types of professionals and enjoys an increasingly
Neal Loving accomplished many “firsts” in his life - pioneering against the odds
of prejudice and physical disability to build five airplanes of his own design, qualify
as a racing pilot, fly his one-seater midget airplane solo to Jamaica, and pursue
groundbreaking work as an aerospace engineer for the United States Air Force.