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Jim Tilmon

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Information about Jim Tilmon

Profile image of Jim Tilmon

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Airplane Pilot
Television Reporter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Sea Bass
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Arizona
Favorite Quote:
You Got To Believe.

Birthplace

Born:
7/31/1934
Birth Location:
Guthrie, Oklahoma

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Airplane Pilot
Television Reporter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Sea Bass
Favorite Time of Year:
Summer
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Arizona
Favorite Quote:
You Got To Believe.

Birthplace

Born:
7/31/1934
Birth Location:
Guthrie
See how Jim Tilmon is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Jim Tilmon, aviation expert, local Emmy-winning newscaster, and accomplished musician, was born on July 31, 1934, in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Tilmon earned his B.A. degree in music from Lincoln University in Missouri, and served in the United States Army Corps of Engineers for eight years, earning the rank of captain.

Tilmon’s interest in flying carried him from the U.S. Army to American Airlines in 1965, where he became the airline’s third African American commercial pilot and the country’s fifth. Tilmon spent twenty-nine years with American Airlines before retiring; his talent earned him the Captain’s Chair Award from American Airlines; inspired United Airlines to grant him the title of honorary captain; and compelled the FAA to name an aviator’s navigation point after him.

While still piloting aircrafts, Tilmon set another precedent by hosting the first live weekly magazine show developed for and by African Americans. 'Our People,' premiered one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tilmon’s guests included notable politicians, artists, and activists, such as Harold Washington, author James Baldwin, and jazz vocalist Johnny Hartman. After four years at WTTW, Tilmon became a weather forecaster and aviation and science reporter at Chicago’s NBC affiliate. Tilmon appeared on numerous national programs, including: 'Hardball,' 'NBC Nightly News,' and 'Nightline.'

In addition to his aviation activities, Tilmon stayed involved with music by performing and creating original music for television motion pictures, and other audio and video productions. Tilmon also recorded a symphony- and orchestra-infused relaxation CD, 'Angel Whispers,' in 2003.

Tilmon was awarded a Chicago Emmy in 1974 and was nominated for a National Emmy and the Illinois Associated Press and Illinois United Press International awards for excellence in reporting and broadcasting. In 2002, the Chicago Chapter of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented Tilmon with the Silver Circle Award for twenty-five years in television.

In 1994, Tilmon retired from the airlines and NBC and moved to Arizona, where he continued to do on-air aviation reporting. In 2002, Tilmon returned to Chicago as a weather forecaster and aviation reporter and analyst for the CBS affiliate. In 2004, Tilmon was inducted into the Chicago Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, and was awarded the Luminary Senior Award for his impact on social and cultural life in the City of Chicago.

Tilmon and his wife, Joan Tilmon, raised three children.



Jim Tilmon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 28, 2003.

See how Jim Tilmon is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Tilmon interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Tilmon's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Tilmon recalls his family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Tilmon describes his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Tilmon remembers his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Tilmon details his parents' struggle against discrimination in education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Tilmon lists his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Tilmon shares his childhood dream of becoming a pilot
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Tilmon relates childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Tilmon recalls the all-black town of Boley, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Tilmon describes the Native American presence in Hominy, Oklahoma
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Tilmon remembers his grandfather's store
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Tilmon tells a story about the outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Tilmon reflects on the all-black Boley, Oklahoma of his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Tilmon remembers his best friend
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Tilmon describes his childhood obsession with airplanes
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Tilmon discusses mentoring aspiring African American pilots, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Tilmon discusses mentoring aspiring African American pilots, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Tilmon recalls his high school extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Tilmon remembers his high school involvement in oratory
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Tilmon recounts his chemistry training at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Tilmon explains his change of majors at Tennessee State University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Tilmon details the many obstacles he overcame to become a pilot
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Slating of Jim Tilmon's interview, session 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon recalls a near flight collision during training
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon remembers his tactical flight training
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon recalls being denied food on flight exercises, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon recalls being denied food on flight exercises, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon talks about his decision not to criticize the program in his evaluation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon recalls being sent to a small airfield in Culpepper, Virginia
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jim Tilmon describes getting lost in a storm while flying
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon recalls flying cross-country with top secret equipment
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon remembers training to fly helicopters, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon remembers training to fly helicopters, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon talks about being stationed in Germany
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon describes war preparations during the Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon recalls the Civil Rights Movement while in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon talks about his encounters with black Germans
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon talks about working for Colonel John C.H. Lee, Jr.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon describes the success of his makeshift airfield, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon describes the success of his makeshift airfield, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon talks about the U.S. military's preparation to defend marchers in Selma, Alabama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon recalls soldiers' reactions to acting under martial law
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon remembers choosing a flight route from Fort Benning, Georgia to Watertown, New York, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon remembers choosing a flight route from Fort Benning, Georgia to Watertown, New York, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jim Tilmon recalls being encouraged to join an American Airlines, Inc. as a pilot
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon recalls a helicopter crash at Fort Benning, Georgia
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon remembers applying to become a pilot for American Airlines, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon describes the process for passing the physical to be an American Airlines, Inc. pilot
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon talks about his decision to leave the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon recalls how he left the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon describes his partnership with Ray LeCont at the American Airlines Cadet Academy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon talks about choosing Chicago, Illinois as his base
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jim Tilmon recalls Ray LaCont's defense when being refused barber services
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Jim Tilmon's interview, session 3
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon recalls his challenges in finding housing in Highland Park, Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon remembers flying with a racist pilot, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon remembers flying with a racist pilot, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon describes discriminatory hiring methods used by United Airlines
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon talks about his favorite airplane
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon recalls an embarrassing incident in flight
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Jim Tilmon talks about diversity and changes in the airline industry
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon recalls volunteering to create a black television show
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon talks about working with producer Rift Fournier
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon recalls his 'Our People' not being sold to a network
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon talks about the celebrity appearances on 'Our People'
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon remembers running 'Our People' after it lost its sponsorships
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon remembers joining WMAQ-TV in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Jim Tilmon talks about how he became a weather broadcaster
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Jim Tilmon talks about the technology used in weather broadcasts
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon talks about the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon recalls his first American Airlines, Inc. flight as a captain, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon recalls his first American Airlines, Inc. flight as a captain, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon describes a negative article written about him
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon talks about his work in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon recalls the death of his brother
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon remembers his bank fraud acquittal and the car accident that ended his flying career
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon talks about his transitory vertigo, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon talks about his transitory vertigo, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon remembers losing his job after his contract was not renewed
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon talks about preventing a boycott of WMAQ-TV
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon recalls getting his job back at WMAQ-TV
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon talks about leaving WMAQ-TV
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon remembers producing the album 'Angel Whispers'
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Jim Tilmon talks about the decline of his production company
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Jim Tilmon recalls being hired at WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Jim Tilmon talks about leaving WBBM-TV in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Jim Tilmon reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Jim Tilmon describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Jim Tilmon reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Jim Tilmon talks about his family
  • Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Jim Tilmon describes how he would like to be remembered