James Herman Banning was born in Canton, Oklahoma Territory, on Nov. 5, 1900, on an Oklahoma homestead to caring parents Riley and Cora Banning.
Banning attended school in a small schoolhouse his parents built. He later relocated to Guthrie to attend Faver High School. In spring 1920, Banning took his first airplane ride while attending an air circus in Iowa. His curiosity and enthusiasm developed immediately after his first trip through the clouds.
Banning would eventually earn pilot’s license number 1324 in 1926, becoming the first African-American aviator to obtain a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce.