On National Aviation Day, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran was joined by local elected officials to designate a portion of Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, outside of the Cradle of Aviation Museum, “William M. Wheeler Way” in honor of the long time Hempstead resident and Tuskegee Airman who helped break the military’s racial barrier. Members of Lt. Wheeler’s family, including his sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren, were in attendance for the dedication.
“Here on Long Island, we have a proud history of aviation and it is important to honor that tradition by commemorating those who helped shape our past,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “As one of the first black pilots in the military, Lt. William M. Wheeler was a revolutionary resident and we owe an incredible debt of gratitude to people like Lt. Wheeler who fought the fight on behalf of future generations and changed history for the better. It is my hope that this roadway dedication will give Lt. Wheeler the long-lasting legacy that he deserves.”
2nd Lt., US Army Air Corps, William M. Wheeler was a highly trained World War II combat pilot, decorated veteran and a longtime Hempstead resident who, as one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, helped break the military’s prohibition against black pilots. The Tuskegee Airmen became the first black pilots to fly for the U.S. military, which before the program began in 1941, refused to allow blacks to apply for aviation training. They faced down discrimination and racism while they were defending our freedoms around the world Lt. Wheeler continued to live up to his legacy long after his career with the army. He traveled with the Tuskegee Airmen’s Speakers Bureau making motivational speeches and presentations to groups around the country.
The renamed portion of Charles Lindbergh Blvd. is in Uniondale, from the intersection of Geoffrey Ave. to the intersection of Earle Ovington Blvd., and runs in front of the Cradle of Aviation Museum, which chronicles Long Island’s journey with flight.
Elected officials in attendance included: Nassau County Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello, Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe, New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, New York State Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Hempstead Mayor Don Ryan.