Captain Donnie L. Cochran’s significant Naval Aviation Achievements and national honor:
In September 1985, after a very competitive selection process, Captain Cochran was selected as the first African American pilot to fly with the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, The Blue Angels in their 40-year history. In 1986 Captain Cochran flew the number three jet and was the last blue Angels team to fly the A-4F Skyhawk. In 1987, Captain Cochran flew the number three jet, and was the first Blue Angel team to fly the F-18 in a blue Angels airshow. In 1988, Captain Cochran transitioned to the slot pilot position flying the number four jet.
Following the completion of his tour as a Blue Angels Pilot, Captain Cochran was recognized by Career Communications Group as the 1989 Black Engineer of the Year. This extraordinary achievement recognized the significant contributions Captain Cochran made as a Blue Angels Pilot and to the Engineering field. In addition, Captain Cochran distinguished performance and highly visible position inspired a whole generation of pilots and engineers for what is possible through maintaining a positive and engaging attitude, a character that is second to none, dedication and enthusiasm for what you desire in life.
In August 1994, Captain Cochran was again selected as the first African American commanding officer and Flight Leader for the United States Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels. Captain Cochran had the unique honor of flying three of the six flying positions as a Blue Angels pilot and flight leader. Captain Cochran made significant contributions to the United States Navy, United States Armed Forces Recruiting and by inspiring pride and honor in the citizens of the Country by flying over three hundred fifty airshows and practice airshows throughout the United States and Canada.
On August 25, 2015, Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal renamed the recently closed Pelham Detention Center to the Donnie Cochran Community Center in honor of Captain Cochran’s extraordinary contributions to Naval Aviation and to the Country in his hometown of Pelham, Georgia. Captain Cochran was also honored for his significant achievement in his military career the honor of being in the Class of 2016 Military Veteran Hall of Fame.