The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Rusty Burns

Share on Social Media

Information about Rusty Burns

Profile image of Rusty Burns

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Flight Instructor
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Tan
Favorite Food:
Red Beans, Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/24/1925
Birth Location:
New Orleans, Louisiana

Profession

Category:
MilitaryMakers
Occupation(s):
Flight Instructor
Tuskegee Airman

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Tan
Favorite Food:
Red Beans, Rice
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Tahiti
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/24/1925
Birth Location:
New Orleans
See how Rusty Burns is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Tuskegee Airman and flight instructor Rusty Burns was born Isham Albert Burns, Jr. on July 24, 1925 in Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. Burns developed his love for aviation in the fifth grade at Corpus Christi Catholic School. In 1939, he moved to Los Angles, California with his family where he studied aeronautics at Jordon High School. At age sixteen, he worked at Burbank Airport while learning about aircraft, theory of flight, navigation and meteorology. In 1942, Burns passed the federal aviation exam. After receiving his diploma in 1943, he was inducted into the United States Army at Fort MacArthur and was sent to Kessler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After completing basic training, he became a certified pre-aviation cadet.

Burns received his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute and Air Base where he graduated in 1944 as a single engine pilot making him one of the youngest of the Tuskegee Airmen. During his time at the Tuskegee Institute, he received twelve hours of college classes a day in addition to his training as a soldier. Burns trained on several aircrafts including the BT-13 and the AT-6. He successfully completed his training in September of 1944 and became a member of the 99th Fighter Squadron at Godman’s Field in Kentucky. Burns’ military career ended in June of 1945 as World War II ended. He returned to Los Angeles and joined the United States Postal Service where he worked for nine years.

Burns returned to aviation after buying and rebuilding his own airplane. In 1955, he opened Rusty’s Flying Service and began giving flight instruction, at Compton Airport. He became one of the only Tuskegee Airmen in Los Angeles to return to an aviation career. He trained over five hundred students before selling his business in 1971 to become an aviation consultant. He consulted for several companies in the private sector including Teledyne, Rocketdyne, Rockwell and North American Airlines. He retired in 1988 after developing a travel service program for the United States’ government.

Burns lives with his wife in California and has four children including author, Khephra Burns.

Burns was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 7, 2005.

See how Rusty Burns is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rusty Burns' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns lists the schools he attended
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns remembers his parents separating
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns remembers earning money as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rusty Burns remembers going to the theater on Saturdays
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rusty Burns remembers sneaking into New Orleans' segregated Saenger Theatre
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns remembers a racist incident in the 1970s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns describes Southern segregation in the 1930s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns recalls his childhood activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns describes the racial makeup of New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns describes his education in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns remembers his early interest in aviation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns remembers moving to Los Angeles, California
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns describes his family's occupations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns remembers deciding to enlist in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Rusty Burns remembers gaining weight to enter the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Rusty Burns remembers training at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns describes his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns describes his aviation training at Tuskegee Institute, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns remembers graduating from flight school in Tuskegee, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns remembers his idol, fighter pilot Wendell O. Pruitt
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns remembers experiencing racism as a black Air Force officer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns remembers going to Walterboro, South Carolina for fighter transition
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns describes the Freeman Field mutiny
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns remembers being discharged from the U.S. Air Force
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns remembers rebuilding his own airplane
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns describes his instructors at Tuskegee Army Airfield
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns remembers starting his own flight school, Rusty's Flying Service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns remembers working for Teledyne Technologies
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns remembers working for Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns describes his family
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns remembers attending Pepperdine University in Malibu, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns describes his marriage to Treneta Burns
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns describes his social life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns reflects upon the progress of African American pilots
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rusty Burns reflects on missed opportunities to mentor black youth in aviation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rusty Burns describes his involvement with the Los Angeles chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rusty Burns talks about young African Americans in the field of aviation
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rusty Burns reflects upon the history of the Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rusty Burns remembers the Watts Riots
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rusty Burns recalls his proudest moment
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rusty Burns reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rusty Burns describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rusty Burns reflects upon hip hop and youth culture
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Rusty Burns talks about his son, Kephra Burns' play, 'Tall Horse'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Rusty Burns describes his plans for the future