One of the very first military units in Afghanistan to see the “Red Tails” movie was the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the unit that today carries the heritage of the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Another home for the Tuskegee Airman in World War II was the 477th Bombardment group. Here, you see Col. Paul Beineke, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, speaking to his unit, also called the Red Tails, prior to showing the movie at an undisclosed base. The movie was shown January 27. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Posts Tagged ‘Tuskegee Airmen’
Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday would have seen this: the first half of an engine swap on the Spirit of Tuskegee, a PT-13 Stearman biplane conveyed to the Smithsonian by Matt and Tina Quy. After buying the airplane as a wreck, they discovered that it had been used in 1944 and 1945 to train Tuskegee Airmen at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala. Since its restoration was completed, they’ve been using the airplane to honor the airmen; a number have flown in the airplane and dozens have signed the inside of its baggage hatch.
Less than a week earlier, Quy took the plane to Moton Field in Tuskegee, revisiting its first duty assignment after being built by Boeing in 1944. His passengers included Leroy Eley of Atlanta, an 84-year-old Tuskegee Airman who drove to Tuskegee to see the historic aircraft.
For the past month, Quy–a captain in the U.S. Air Force–has been making his way to Washington with the airplane. On the trip his stops included the Air Force Academy in Colorado; EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh; Moton Field in Tuskegee, Ala.; and Andrews Air Force Base, the latter for the 7oth anniversary reunion of the Tuskegee Airmen. Quy discussed the airplane and his journey with AOPA Live during AirVenture. Dik Daso, a National Air and Space Museum curator, accompanied Quy on the flight from Tuskegee to Washington, and blogged about the experience.
The Spirit of Tuskegee made its last flight on Friday, Aug. 5, when the Quys flew it to Washington Dulles International and taxied to the Udvar-Hazy Center. Even then, however, the airplane continued to make history: It’s the first artifact to be worked on in the museum’s new Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar, a just-opened, 235,000-square-foot facility where visitors can watch restoration projects from elevated viewing areas. Among other details, Quy and the Smithsonian crew are swapping engines and brakes on the airplane, to return it as closely as possible to its original appearance.
The Spirit of Tuskegee will be displayed temporarily at Udvar-Hazy; in 2015, it will move to the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture in downtown Washington, D.C. It will be the only aircraft displayed in the museum. Look for a story on this historic airplane in an upcoming issue of AOPA Pilot.
Margaret Kerr Boyland was a WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II and never questioned why she and her fellow WASPs got no federal benefits for their service, until the 1970s. She helped lead a successful lobbying effort for veteran benefits. She died in Nov. 2010.
Charles H. Kaman founded Kaman Aerospace in his mother’s garage that is now a $1.2 billion company making parts for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He is credited with the first gas turbine-powered helicopter, and the first remotely controlled helicopter. He died in January.
Dr. Charles Herbert Flowers was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and was honored when Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Springdale, Md., was named after him. He became a satellite controller and later a personnel manager (he wrote Training the Best) for a contractor at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He died in January.