Over the past couple of decades, Mamta Patel Nagaraja has worked on various spaceflight priorities and initiatives at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “I believe in the power of knowledge, of discovering, of exploring,” she said when describing her longtime passion for that field of human endeavor. Patel was born in Anaheim, California.... Continue Reading →

Nainoa Thompson is widely regarded as the first Native Hawaiian in modern times to adopt and successfully use traditional Polynesian voyaging methods for open-ocean sailing. Those methods rely on natural reference points (e.g., the Sun, stars, sea swells, the movements of fish and birds) instead of today’s conventional wayfinding instruments for navigation. (A sub-region of... Continue Reading →

In 2017, entrepreneur and amateur pilot Ravinder Bansal set a new record as the first person of Indian origin to complete a solo flight around the world in a single-engine plane. Bansal was born in the city and municipal corporation of Ambala in India in 1949. By the 1970s, he had made his way to... Continue Reading →

As a public health scientist, T. Bella Dinh-Zarr has focused on promoting safe and sustainable transportation both within the United States and across the globe. Dinh-Zarr began her life’s journey in Vietnam. When she was only four years old, Dinh-Zarr and her family fled that country for the United States. They settled in Galveston, Texas,... Continue Reading →

In 2001, Mark L. Polansky became the first Korean-American to travel into outer space. He had been born in Paterson, New Jersey, in 1956. His mother Edith is of Korean descent, and his late father Irving was Jewish. When he was only 13, Mark Polansky began to develop a strong interest in spaceflight while watching... Continue Reading →

In 2008, Christine Igisomar became the first Chamorro woman to graduate from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. (The Chamorros are indigenous Pacific Islanders from the Mariana Archipelago.) Igisomar followed in the footsteps of Juan T. Salas, who was the first Chamorro man to graduate from that military service academy; he graduated from there in 1968,... Continue Reading →

On Wong, who is better known today by his nickname Ah Louis (pronounced Ah-Lou-ee), was born in China in 1840. Sometime between 1856 and 1861, Ah Louis left China for California to seek his fortune. His efforts to mine for gold were unsuccessful, so he instead started working for several years as a laborer at... Continue Reading →

In 2008, 25-year-old Arizona native Jessica Cox became the world’s first licensed armless pilot. Cox, a Filipino-American, was born without arms due to a rare birth defect. This disability, however, has not prevented her from leading an active life filled with noteworthy accomplishments. Cox, who graduated from the University of Arizona in 2005 with a... Continue Reading →

In 1962, Kwang-Ping Hsu became the first foreign-born graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA). He had started out life in 1936 in the province of Shandong (also known as Shantung) in eastern China. His father was a professor of pathology at Beijing University. Kwang-Ping Hsu grew up during the brutal Japanese occupation of... Continue Reading →

NASA astronaut Daniel M. Tani was born in 1961 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. Less than two decades earlier, his parents Rose and Henry N. Tani and their oldest son had been forced to relocate from their California farm to internment camps for Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans during World War II. As one minister noted during... Continue Reading →

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