Teaching the World to Fly
Students of the Air
Emory C. Malick was born in Seven Points, Pennsylvania on December 29, 1881. He was the third child of thirteen in his family. A skilled carpenter and master tile-layer by trade, Emory took an interest in flying around 1910, first experimenting with gliders. He was a member of the Aero Club of Pennsylvania despite not yet earning his pilot’s license. He started with building his own aircraft, much like Curtiss. While living in Philadelphia, he joined the Curtiss School of Aviation Class of 1912 and attended the winter camp in San Diego, California. He graduated and earned his license in March. Malick became the first African-American pilot to earn his license as well as actively fly in the United States. Through the teens and twenties, Malick flew in exhibitions and sold rides. He later flew for various companies in the Philadelphia area including Aero Service Corp., Dallen Aerial Surveys, and the Flying Dutchman Air Svc. as a flight instructor, aerial photographer, and giving passenger flights. Early in 1924, Emory Malick set out on his own again and obtained a WACO Curtiss OX-5 powered aircraft. When not working as a skilled laborer, he traveled around the northeast selling rides and flying demonstrations. 1928 was the last year Emory took to the air. After having a near fatal crash at the Camden, New Jersey Air Show, he quit flying for good. While he never flew again, even as a passenger, Emory appeared at air shows displaying his early 1914 Curtiss OX2 engine, giving support to other pilots. When asked why he would not fly again he said, “I had my fun, and now I’m done.” Emory’s love of flying paved the way for other African-Americans to join the Curtiss Schools. Despite written records no longer existing of these other students, photos reveals that Curtiss schools were open to all regardless of race, gender, or national background. Emory Malick passed away in December of 1958 at the age of 77.
Malick preparing to soar the skies
Malick at the wheel
Tom Gunn: First Chinese Aviator
Agustin Parla: First Cuban Pilot
Blanche Stuart Scott: First Female Pilot
Ruth Nichols: First Female Flying Boat Pilot
Frederick L. de Reimsdyke: First Dutch Pilot
Mohan Singh: First Indian Pilot
Motohisa Kondo: First Japanese Pilot
Raphael Marti: First Puerto Rican Pilot
In late April, he along with two other students, transferred from the California flying school to Hammondsport, New York, where they continued their lessons. At the end of the month, Marti flew his solo flight in a Curtiss Model D in order to earn his license. He earned the title of Puerto Rico’s first pilot. However, he did not pursue a pilot’s license as they were not mandatory at that time. During his training Marti became friends with fellow student Agustin Parla (who would become the first Cuban pilot). The two lived together while training in Hammondsport. Rafael completed additional training for an extra month so as to become an exhibition pilot. Due to his incredible flying skills, he was one of the few students to be featured in the June and July 1912 issue of Aeronautics Magazine. Upon returning to Puerto Rico, Marti’s dream was to raise enough money to purchase his own airplane. He wanted to open a flying school of his own, exactly like his teacher, Glenn Curtiss had. Sadly, Marti never achieved these goals. There is no record of him ever flying in native Puerto Rico.
Raphael Marti near his plane