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Houston Mills ’85 featured in exhibit honoring Black aviators

Houston Mills ’85, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Vice President of Flight Operations for UPS, will be featured in a special exhibit in Louisville in honor of Black History Month.

Houston Mills ’85, Vice President of Flight Operations for UPS, speaks to the press after piloting the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Louisville.

Bowman Field, Louisville’s general aviation airport and one of the nation’s longest continuously operating airports, will host the exhibit, “The Sky’s the Limit: A Celebration of the History of Black Achievement in Aviation,” until Feb. 28.

The attraction will showcase specific members of the Black aviation community, along with their achievements, according a news release from the Regional Airport Authority. It will highlight how these men and women got their start in aviation, adversities they experienced, and the ways they overcame those obstacles to rise to greatness.

“The Louisville Regional Airport Authority is excited to open this exhibit celebrating Black History Month,” said Dan Mann, executive director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority. “It showcases the extraordinary achievements of these Black men and women from the early days of aviation through the age of space travel, including efforts today to introduce our young people to the opportunities in aviation. We hope the stories of these pioneers and leaders inspire a new generation of aviation professionals.”

Mills, a former board chair of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, told WDRB.com that the exhibit is well-timed.

“Our community has just experienced difficult reminders about social justice and equity, so this year’s Black History Month is particularly important,” Mills said. “It’s fantastic that the LRAA is showcasing these inspirational aviation heroes and the great things that happen when opportunities are available for people of all races.”

Houston Mills (front) ’85, and Vice President of Flight Operations for UPS, with co-pilot Neal Newell.

Over the last year, Mills has been making headlines for his aviation work.

In December, he piloted the first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. From there, the vaccines were distributed to all parts of the country, with frontline health care workers expected to be among the first group this week to receive doses.

“I was very humbled and honored to have been selected to be the pilot of this first flight,” said Mills, who co-piloted a Boeing 757 airliner with Neal Newell, a former U.S. Air Force F-16 pilot. “What this flight represents is the beginning of the end. This historic moment is about hope.”

Over the Super Bowl weekend, Mills was also featured in a short story CBS Sports ran recognizing contributions by essential service workers during the pandemic.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

As a first-generation college student from Indianapolis, Mills was an English literature major and political science minor, pursuing a pre-law degree at Wabash College. He was recruited to the College to play basketball by longtime coach Mac Petty H’82.

During his time at Wabash, Mills also joined Lambda Chi Alpha, Sphinx Club, and was actively involved with the Malcolm X Institute.