They were our nation’s first African-American military aviators. The Tuskegee Airmen peaked at 1,000 pilots and 15,000 ground crew during World War II. Now, only 40 pilots and 200 ground crew are alive today. Florida’s Fantasy of Flight aircraft collection continues to honor the airmen with a series of symposiums coming up in 2013 as well as their annual student essay contest.
“Reading the student essays last year, it was clear how much the participants were influenced by the Tuskegee Airmen, both by the men they met in person at the ‘They Dared to Fly’ symposium, as well as through the research they conducted on their own,” said Kim Long, General Manager, Fantasy of Flight in a statement.
Dedicated to preserving historic moments in aviation history and inspiring future generations to greatness, Fantasy of Flight is inviting students to help with this mission by sharing their impressions of the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII in essay form.Themed “They Dared To Fly,” the contest invites central Florida students in grades 6-12 to enter the contest, referring to the L.E.A.D. values that put the Tuskegee Airmen in the history books – Leadership, Excellence, Advocacy and Determination.
First place winners in each of two categories (grades 6-8 and 9-12) will take home $500; two second place winners each will receive $300.
Fantasy of Flight’s 2013 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series continues with several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions as well as meet-and-greet autograph signings with some of the original Tuskegee Airmen Feb. 7-9, 2013. The event will be held in celebration of Black History Month and marks the first of six symposiums.
Other topics scheduled for 2013 include Beyond the Battlefield, March 8-9; The First World War, April 6; D-Day: Normandy & Beyond, May 3-4; Espionage: The Cold War, Oct. 4-5 and Veteran’s Day Salute: A Celebration of Service, Nov. 9-10, 2013.
Symposium events are included in the price of Fantasy of Flight general admission and are free for annual pass holders.
[Photo Credit- Flickr user Suzanne_C_Walker]