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Loving, Neal Vernon(1916–1998) - Chronology, Receives Outstanding Design Award for Loving’s Love

air wayne aviation flight

1916

Born in Detroit, Michigan on February 4

1931

Enters Cass Technical High School in auto-aero department

1935

Receives Project of the Month Award from Mechanix Illustrated

1935

Begins taking flying lessons

1939

Takes first solo flight; organizes the St. Antoine YMCA Glider Club for boys fourteen and older

1944

Airplane crash crushes both legs and rehabilitation begins

1946

Forms Wayne School of Aeronautics with Earsly Taylor

1949

Begins construction of WR-1 ( Loving’s Love )

1954

Wins Most Outstanding Design award for Loving’s Love

1955

Marries Clare Therese; enrolls at Wayne State University to study aeronautical engineering

1961

Graduates Wayne State University

1968

Wins Meritorious Civilian Service award

1982

Retires from Wright AFB, aerospace engineering position

1991

Wins Distinguished Achievement award, Organization of Black Airline Pilots

1991

Stops flying

1994

Publishes autobiography

1995

Wins Major Achievement award, Experimental Aircraft Association

1996

Gets inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame

1998

Dies in Yellow Springs, Ohio on December 19

Receives Outstanding Design Award for Loving’s Love

Loving once again began designing planes. He had an interest in midget-class racers, a new category intended to be affordable to builders and pilots with average incomes. Loving began working on a midget racer, designated the WR-1, which later became known as Loving’s Love . In 1948, the Professional Racing Pilots Association (PRPA) approved the general design of the WR-1. Loving began constructing the gull-winged plane in January 1949. On August 7, 1950, he took the plane out for a nearly flawless test flight. The following year, he began to enter it in races, earning a racing pilot’s license at the National Air Races. The engine on Loving’s Love could reach over 3,800 rpm in level flight resulting in a top speed of approximately 215 to 255 mph. Loving became the first black pilot and the first double-amputee to qualify as a racing pilot with the National Aeronautic Association and the PRPA.

Between 1953 and 1954, Loving flew Loving’s Love on a 4800-mile round-trip between Detroit and Kingston, Jamaica to the location where Earsly Taylor Barnett and Carl Taylor Barnett had founded a flight school. The following year, at the second annual fly-in of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) at Rockford, Illinois, Loving won the “Most Outstanding Design” award for Loving’s Love . The following year, Loving married Carl Barnett’s sister, Clare Therese. Later, they adopted a son, Paul Leslie, born in 1958 and a daughter, Michelle Stephanie, born in 1959. In the fall of 1955, Loving was finally able to enroll at Wayne State University as a student in the aeronautical engineering program at the age of 39. In 1957, he closed the Wayne School of Aeronautics and devoted himself full-time to his studies. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1961 with a degree in aerospace engineering.

After receiving his aerospace engineering degree, Loving went to work as an aeronautical engineer in the Flight Dynamics Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in Ohio. He became known for his diplomacy and his work in clear-air turbulence measurement techniques. While serving as a project engineer for the Air Force’s High Altitude Clear Air Turbulence Project, Loving coordinated agreements with other nations for worldwide operations bases for the Lockheed U-2 spy plane and traveled oversees to discuss potential turbulence problems a supersonic transport (SST) might face.

In 1982, Loving retired after twenty years of service at Wright AFB and devoted his time to his family. He continued to fly a “roadable” aircraft, kept at his garage at Yellow Springs, Ohio, where he and his wife lived. He stopped flying in 1991, when he had an aneurysm in his lower aorta and the Federal Aviation Administration revoked his medical certificate. In 1994, his autobiography, Loving’s Love: A Black American’s Experience in Aviation , was published. He also became a motivational speaker.

On October 18, 1997, Loving was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame for his long and memorable career. He died in 1998 at the age of 82. He will go down in history as one who overcame the odds and made major contributions to the black aviation community and the aerospace industry. Loving’s Love is on permanent display at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Air Education Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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