James Banning, born in Canton, Oklahoma in 1900, was part of a duo-team famously named “The Flying Hobos.” In 1932, the pair set out on a 21-day journey to cross the country by flight, taking pit stops along their route to raise money for completing the historic trip. They succeeded in crossing the country by plane, making James the first black American to do so. His death came as an indirect tragedy from his record-setting flight, as his biplane, “Miss Ames,” was forced down in Pennsylvania at the end of his journey. James endeavored to raise funds for returning his plane home by participating in air shows, but passed away in 1933 after an accident.
James was turned away from attending pilot school due to racial descrimination, just like Bessie, and was instead taught to fly by a military pilot in Iowa. He later accepted a Chief Flight Instructor job at the Bessie Coleman Aero Club Aviation School for African Americans prior to taking his cross-country journey.