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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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The Black Eagle of Harlem

The Black Eagle of Harlem

(p.291) The Black Eagle of Harlem
Beyond Blackface

Shane White

Stephen Garton

Stephen Robertson

Graham White

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter illustrates how, in 1923, Americans were still enraptured with the sheer romance of flight, the authorities had not yet taken control of the airspace over cities, and, seemingly, pilots were pretty much free to do as they pleased. Thus it was that, late in the afternoon, on Sunday, April 30, three planes took off from Curtis Field on Long Island, maneuvered into formation, and headed for Manhattan. Clarence Chamberlin, a pioneer aviator and later transatlantic flier, piloted the lead plane and, bundled in the passenger seat with his newly purchased parachute, was Hubert Julian, a recent emigre, originally from Trinidad. Moments after the planes reached Harlem, flying low at less than 3,500 feet, the pilots exploded several noise bombs, prompting many surprised whites living in Washington Heights to take to the streets in order to discover what was going on.

Keywords:   romance of flight, airspace, Curtis Field, Clarence Chamberlin, transatlantic flier, Hubert Julian

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