Tuskegee airmen gather again

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Tech Sergeant
Apr 6, 2005
Tuskegee airmen gather again
Events include air shows, tours of historic site
Staff Writer

Several original Tuskegee Airmen and black aviators from across the nation will gather in Tuskegee this weekend for the 35th Annual Memorial Weekend Fly-in, "A Weekend of Legends."

The four-day event, which begins with registration today at Kellogg Conference Center on the Tuskegee University campus, is designed to promote aviation in the African-American community, said Sam Jones of Negro Airmen International (NAI), the sponsor of the event. NAI is the world's largest organization of black aviators.

"It also gives a lot of our members -- the Airmen -- an opportunity to come home," he said. "Tuskegee is the perfect place for that since it was one of the birthplaces of African-American aviation before World War II. We're looking for our largest crowd ever -- thousands."

Retired Lt. Col. Herbert Carter of Tuskegee, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, will be among a number of Airmen, hundreds of pilots and other special guests in attendance. Most of the events will be centered on Moton Field, the site of primary flight training for the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is being built at Moton Field, where nine of the original 15 buildings used in their training still stand. The historic site is the subject of a $29 million federal project, which will include the renovation of many of those buildings and the construction of a museum to honor the Airmen.

The National Park Service will have tours of the site during the weekend, which will include free youth rides, aerobatic demonstrations and a fly-by performed by U.S. Air Force jets.

"We are honored to have this event in Tuskegee," Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford said. "This enhances our ongoing effort to build the $29 million museum site at historic Moton Field. These type of activities, such as the one being held this weekend, remind the nation of the tremendous service rendered during World War II by the Tuskegee Airmen and the continuous contribution to aviation by Negro airmen in today's society."

The National Airmen International Inc., currently headquartered in Savannah, Ga., recently announced its plan to relocate to Tuskegee and Moton Field.

"We've had a presence in Tuskegee, but we have dedicated ourselves to open up a general aviation museum. There's no better place to open up that museum than Tuskegee," Jones said. "The historic site is looking for approximately 450,000 people per year to come through that site and to put a general aviation museum there will be a big plus.

"And also we want to get back to some of our old programs like our summer flight academy and some actual flight training with the university there, get that program going again. I find that history is repeating itself so often it's really amazing. When the program (the U.S. Army Air Corps cadet training program in World War II) first started out, it started out from a civilian flight training program."

Saturday events at Moton Field will include free youth rides, aerobatic demonstrations by Derrick Lee of the Red Tail Foundation, an aerobatic seminar/demonstration by Dr. Hector Ramirez, a World Aerobatic Team member and the tours.

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