The Flying Eagles Motorcycle Club (FEMC) has always approached riding with a unique perspective. Chartered in 1950, the Flying Eagles are one of, if not the first, motorcycle clubs of color in Maryland, the United States, and potentially, the world. They are also the epitome of a family club. FEMC is an organization tied together through generations of riding, charitable events, and breaking barriers.
MotorcycleTalks® spoke with three members of FEMC about their history and future. All three asked to only be identified as representatives for the Flying Eagles instead of by name. They stressed that the club truly was a family and that the group speaks together. According to one of the reps, everything started when a few friends got together in 1950 and decided to go from casual lovers of motorcycle riding into an official club.
“They banded together to launch Flying Eagles Motorcycle Club (MC),” said the rep. “They were like brothers.”
What made FEMC so unique at the time is that the majority of members for the first decades were black. At a time years prior to the Civil Rights revolution in the United States, the Flying Eagles were already making waves by showing up to riding events and staking their claim as a club to be respected. The natural counter-culture vibe of the burgeoning motorcycle scene made the Flying Eagles feel more accepted among their fellow bikers of all colors than anywhere else.
“Motorcycles became the glue that bound everyone together. It was more important than the color of your skin,” said a FEMC rep.
All through the ‘50s and ‘60s, the club grew and spread its wings. At their heart, the Flying Eagles were (and still are) a Maryland motorcycle club that chose to focus on community.
“We as a small club decided many years ago that we wanted to be family-oriented and local,” said one rep.
“What drew me, camaraderie with not just the club but family members,” agreed another rep. “It’s more of a family club.”
That emphasis on being a welcoming, united group made the Eagles not only one of the first clubs of color on the American motorcycle scene but also one of the first to welcome female riders and members. This philosophy led to the Flying Eagles eventually having a female president for many years–the granddaughter of one of the founding members. Those generational ties still run strong in the FEMC with club membership often being a family affair that allows three or four generations to ride together.
“Our oldest member is 93-years-old,” said a rep. “We have other honorary members in their 90s.”
“I grew up here, it’s in my family,” said another rep. “I enjoy serving the community, meeting other riders, getting together, and having a good time.”
When the Flying Eagles aren’t busy shattering racial and gender barriers and biker stereotypes, the organization prides itself on participating in charitable events such as their recent toy drive for the holidays. The group took in donations from the community–enough to fill a large car trailer for transporting those toys to Prologue, Inc, a Baltimore-based housing services non-profit that assists battered women and displaced families and children. From the organization’s website:
“Prologue offers a residential component of its psychiatric rehabilitation program to eligible and interested individuals. Persons have their own bedroom and receive necessary support services to maintain the home. Assistance with food shopping, medication monitoring, meal preparation and access to social activities is also offered. Housing options include townhouses, garden style condominiums and single-family homes in Pikesville, Reisterstown and Randallstown.”
All three reps agreed that this year’s toy drive was a fantastic experience. You can check out photos and videos of the event on the club’s Facebook (@FEMC1950). In addition to toy drives, the Flying Eagles enjoy attending roundups; riding to motorcycle events like Sturgis, Daytona Bike Week, and Laconia Bike Week; and having a massive picnic during Ocean City Bike Week. The group’s roots might grow deep in Maryland soil, but they also are fans of the road and love to travel across the country to connect with other clubs.
“We have friends who live in Indianapolis, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Virginia, and many other locations,” said one rep. “So we’d ride out there for their events, stay at their houses, and they’d come here and stay at our houses when they’re taking part in our events.”
With so much history under its belt, the FEMC has taken on a mentorship role for other clubs. The Flying Eagles have been a member of the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) since the early 1960s, one of the first clubs of color to join. They began running Field Meet events (hill climbs, races, riding challenges, and picnic) around the same time, an activity that brought together motorcycle enthusiasts of all races. Other clubs view the FEMC as pioneers for their work challenging race and gender barriers.
“(Clubs) will tell us, ‘you all blazed a path for us, you started this for us,’” said a FEMC rep.
The Flying Eagles’ have earned a number of accolades and recognition over the years from both their peers and the motorcycle community at large. The FEMC received the “Historic MC” patch from the AMA and the group was featured in a four-page spread of HOG (Harley-Davidson Owners Group) Magazine in 2016. It’s fitting since one rep estimated about 95-percent of FEMC ride Harleys.
Despite all of their accomplishments, the Flying Eagles aren’t planning to hit the brakes anytime soon. They continue to grow as an organization and family, paving the way for future generations of riders to put rubber to the road. The FEMC encourages anyone of any age, race, gender, or creed, to look into bikes if the desire to ride is there.
“Look for a club that is suited to your personality,” suggested one rep.
“And make sure to take a motorcycle safety course,” added another.
The Flying Eagles say they are seeing more and more “non-traditional” riders on bikes, something they are happy to witness since they believe a love of riding and the road transcends all demographics.
“One of the fastest growing groups of motorcycle owners are women,” noted a rep, who went on to say that senior riders are also an emerging community.
All three reps believed that folks might be surprised just how welcoming and supportive the motorcycle community is for all comers, especially here locally.
“It’s amazing how many family-oriented motorcycle clubs there are in Maryland,” said a rep.
You can learn more about the history and future of the Flying Eagles Motorcycle Club by visiting them on Facebook @FEMC1950 or on Instagram @FlyingEaglesMC. As always, for more motorcycle community news, spotlights, and features, you can follow
MotorcycleTalks® here and on social media. Keep the rubber side down and have fun out there.
Story told by Travis Brown