Neal V. Loving - Notes

 

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 diverse membership.

 

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.

 

For further reading, please see “Neal Loving in Context – African-American Aviation Pioneers”.

 

Mark Martel and Kate Hagenbuch

May, 2010