The formation of the first all-black squadron of combat soldiers of World War II in 1941 forever changed the path of aspiring African American aviators. Although there were only 992 pilots trained, there were approximately 15,000 trailblazers that were a part of this historic experiment including various engineers, navigators, bombardiers, mechanics instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, and cooks. Now known as the Tuskegee Airmen, they dispelled myths, biases, and racism by their exemplary leadership proving African Americans were brave leaders who could operate complex machinery such as airplanes. The “Double Victory” that the Airmen achieved created a paradigm shift. It was both a victory overseas and a victory at home, demanding equality for African Americans in the United States.
Twenty-three years ago, in upstate New York, Brigadier General Charles McGee was present to help launch the very first Tuskegee Airman chapter to be named after a woman. This woman’s name is Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, a Yale graduate and the very first black female Major-General in the US National Guard. This chapter of Tuskegee Airmen has been offering free aviation training for the Airmen-inspired underserved in the community. They continue to train elementary school students every Saturday and high school students every Monday.
In September 2021, a new Tuskegee program was launched by the chapter, known as The Red Tail Flight Academy. The Tuskegee Airmen were responsible for many firsts in history. Our country is again facing a major pilot shortage. The Academy is in existence to help alleviate this shortage.
The mission of the Red Tail Flight Academy is to act as a Tuskegee Airmen-inspired pipeline leading to career possibilities for under-represented people of color. The vision of the Red Tail Flight Academy uses aviation as an aspirational platform to recruit, develop, expose, and place under-represented talent with an emphasis on candidates of color in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen. It champions STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs for the next generation. The targeting of underserved communities provides pathway programs within the aviation and aerospace industry. This program serves as a blueprint for existing & future Tuskegee Airmen Inc. regional flight academies. The pipeline will help to relieve the projected 500,000 commercially rated pilot deficit by 2030 and forge partnerships with innovative and forward-thinking organizations.
The Red Tail Flight Academy has a Corporate Ambassador Program designed to work with corporate flight departments interested in furthering the diversity in the aviation community. There is also a Red Tail Society for individuals that want to foster the next generation of aviators.
Visit www.Redtailflightacademy.org for additional information about the Red Tail Flight Academy.