The Negro Airmen International (NAI), the nation’s oldest African-American pilot’s organization and direct descendent of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, will hold its annual “Fly-In” May 23, 2009 in Tuskegee, Alabama. The theme for this year’s event is, OPERATION HOMECOMING, “Continuing the Economic Impact, During Difficult Times.”
Sam L. Jones, of Savannah, Georgia, and President of NAI, shared the significance of this year’s Fly-In. ” Although, everyone is experiencing difficult economic conditions, this event which has gone on for forty-one years will continue. This year, as in years, Black pilots will fly in with their planes and engage the pubic, especially the young people. It is going to be fantastic event, and everyone is still invited. The Biofuels Racing Alliance (BFRA) will be there along with the Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, JBU Productions (Charlotte North Carolina), the Corvette Club out of Atlanta, motorcycle groups, farmers, Black Pilots, and many other local partners.
The Fly-In continues a tradition that everyone looks forward to and has come to know as the largest gathering of African American pilots in the nation. This weekend became popular as many Black pilots and enthusiasts returned to Tuskegee to visit the “Chief,” Charles Alfred Anderson, who passed away in 1996. Anderson trained more than 1000 pilots at Moton Field in Tuskegee, including General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. and General Daniel “Chappie” James.
Anderson was the chief flight instructor for the highly regarded 332nd Fighter Group, formed entirely of Tuskegee pilots. It was one of the most successful fighter groups during World War II, and they have the lone distinction of being the only fighter group never to have lost a bomber to enemy fighters while they were flying as escort. That kind of record required strict discipline and superb flying, both of which “Chief” instilled in his men.
The Fly-in commemorates the contributions of African American pilots in the field of aviation. Over the past 41 years, it has grown in numbers and initiatives having a positive impact on citizens of Tuskegee to the creation of the Tuskegee historic Airmen site. The leaders of NAI with other organizations realize the importance of what “Chief” and others have done, so in celebrating, they strive to share this history with others, and provide information about economic opportunities to those residing in the “Black Belt” by collaborating with local businesses.
The Event organizers have shortened this year’s event in order that the Fly-in could continue. Next year it is their plan to go back to their original format. The Organizers felt that although our country was going through difficult financial times that the Fly-in should continue. The event this year will be held on Friday May 22 and Saturday May 23, 2009. The event would allow its visitors to continue to support local businesses. The Fly-In will also explore opportunities in the energy industry, which, with skyrocketing prices, is a business area in which African Americans (Black People) should carve out a significant niche.
How can you celebrate the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, other African American aviators, as well as the accomplishments of Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Charles “Chief” Anderson, and others? You can come to Tuskegee and be a part of this historical event. As we invoke the names of Booker T. and George W. Carver, we should also invoke the spirit of their work and dedication to empowering others. Go to www.blackwingsonline.com for more information on the Fly-In. See you there!
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