Captain William C. Rand

William C. Rand was born in Texarkana, Texas. After attending Texas Southern University, he joined the United States Air Force. Rand applied and was accepted into Aviation Cadet training, graduating in 1962 with a commission as a Second Lieutenant. After additional training, he served as a B-52 Navigator/Electronics Warfare Officer for four years, then was accepted into undergraduate pilot training.

Upon graduation, Rand was assigned to the C-141 Starlifter, flying passengers and cargo worldwide. In 1968, he transitioned to the OV-10 Bronco for combat in Vietnam, where he served as an OV-10 Forward Air Controller/ Air Liaison Officer, attached to the United States Army’s Americal Division, stationed in Chu Lai, RVN.

Rand separated from the Active Air Force in 1972 to pursue a career in commercial aviation, but remained active in the Air Force Reserve, retiring in 1984 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Immediately upon active Air Force separation in May 1972, he was hired by Western Airlines where he was the fifth pilot of African American descent to work for the company. Western merged into Delta Air Lines in 1987, where he remained until the mandatory retirement age of 60 in 2001.

During Rand’s tenure at both Western and Delta, he flew every aircraft within the combined fleets, with the exception of the MD- 88 and the MD-11, and was a check airman on the B-757 and B-767. Rand retired from Delta in January as an international captain, flying the Boeing 767-300ER from the JFK base.

After a successful career in aviation which spanned almost 40 years, Rand and his wife are enjoying retirement. They still travel extensively and divide their time between homes in Oakland, California, Incline Village, Nevada and Savannah, Georgia. While the aviation industry has been very good for his family, Rand’s two adult children are successfully following career paths outside of aviation. 

Return to full list of PIONEERS IN AVIATION