Michael Hollis: Higher Planes

Picture you’re boarding your next flight and you immediately notice that there’s something vastly different from the others that you’ve taken. The staff is very welcoming which is customary, but all of the seats are more spacious. You have a seat, strap in, and glance at the menu for the day’s trip and notice that you’re selecting between lamb chops or filet mignon. The good stuff. Now imagine this airline being black owned and operated. This was the vision of Michael Hollis, an extremely successful businessman who set out to create a black owned luxury airline. The late Michael Hollis of Atlanta Air was one of the first African Americans to realize how great of an opportunity it would be to pioneer a string of black owned airlines.

Hollis didn’t get into the airline industry as a former pilot, nor did he have any experience in the aviation business. In fact, Hollis at the time was a lawyer and a very well-known and well-respected man. He became widely recognized at an early age due to his prominence in several youth based political groups. At only 15-years-old, he was named head of the Atlanta Youth Congress, and was later appointed to a community-relations commission that helped address race. Sam Massell, president of the Buckhead Coalition and a former Atlanta mayor told The Atlanta Journal Constitution in a 2012 interview. “He was a boy wonder and helped us understand issues just surfacing in that arena.”

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