First Black to fly with Blue Angels speaks at ERAU

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
Retired Navy Captain Donnie L. Cochran speaks at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Feb. 28.

Retired Navy Captain Donnie Cochran talked about his storied career as a pilot on Feb. 28 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) in Daytona Beach.

Cochran was part of the university’s Black History Month Speakers Series sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Cochran logged more than 1,500 hours and over 240 airshows as the first African-American pilot to fly with the Blue Angels, later becoming the elite precision flying team’s commanding officer and flight leader.

His career includes leading two fighter squadrons, serving as the deputy commander of the Navy’s Recruiting Command and as the Navy ROTC Commanding Officer and professor of Naval Science at Florida A&M and Florida State Universities.

Cochran also is the author of “Glad to Be Here: My Lessons Learned as A Blue Angels Flight Leader and Pilot.’’

The Georgia native graduated from Savannah State College in June 1976, earning a degree in civil engineering technology and commission in the United States Navy.

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