Lloyd “Fig” Newton: First African American Pilot in the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds

Written by Jae Jones

Lloyd Newton was an administrator, educator, and four-star general in the United States Air Force. Newton was born in Ridgeland, South Carolina, to tenant farmers John and Annie Newton.  Newton attended segregated schools in South Carolina and graduated from Jasper High School. After high school, he attended the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Tennessee State University in Nashville. He was named a Distinguished Graduate of the program, receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Aviation Education and a commission as an officer in the United States Air Force.

After Newton completed the pilot training program, he became a fighter pilot in the F-4D Phantom II.  Newton’s dream was to  become a member of the elite flying demonstration team, the Thunderbirds. He reached his goal 10 years later, becoming the first African American pilot to join that elite team. Newton was one of 11 four-star generals in the United States Air Force. He was commander of Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, where he recruited, trained, and educated other Air Force personnel.

Newton’s awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, and numerous other military decorations.



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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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