Daring aviation legends make film real

Fantasy of Flight is an aviation-themed Florida exhibit showcasing vintage aircraft from the world’s largest private collection, themed immersion experiences, interactive exhibits and more. Now through February 11, Fantasy of Flight is celebrating National Black History month with its Fourth Annual Legends & Legacies Symposium Series with a visit from famed World War II heroes, the Tuskegee Airmen as well as a student essay contest honoring the aviators’ leadership, excellence, advocacy and determination.

“It is an honor and a privilege to welcome back the Tuskegee Airmen and their families to Fantasy of Flight for our Fourth Annual Legends & Legacies Symposium Series,” said Kim Long, General Manager. “We couldn’t think of a better way to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and celebrate Black History Month than by engaging students to learn more about these brave aviators and express what they’ve learned through written essays.”

During “They Dared to Fly,” the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African-American military aviators, will share their personal stories of what it was like to serve as a pilot in the military during segregated America. Three Tuskegee Airmen will be appearing including Leo Gray, 91, who served as a consultant on the recently released Lucas Red Tails film, as well as Daniel Keel, 89 and George Hardy, 88. Of the original group of nearly 1,000 trained pilots and 15,000 ground personnel that made up the Tuskegee Airmen, roughly 50 pilots and 200 ground crew are alive today.In tribute to the living legends, students in grades 4-12 were invited to participate in the “They Dared to Fly” essay contest. Using the principles of LEAD (Leadership, Excellence, Advocacy and Determination), students described how the Tuskegee Airmen achieved success and how they can use these values to achieve a personal goal of their own.

Fantasy of Flight’s permanent multi-media Tuskegee Airmen exhibit and vintage aircraft collection, including the P-51C Mustang, provides the perfect backdrop for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the brave men who fought America’s enemies abroad while enduring racism at home.

“They Dared to Fly” runs through Saturday, February 11 and will feature two open-forum/question-and-answer sessions each day at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm followed by meet/greet autograph signings with several of the original Tuskegee Airmen.