Black History Month provides both an opportunity to acknowledge the past and to look forward to the future. Today, February 23, 2013, a gathering learned about the glorious past of Black aviation, and looked forward to a future where Blacks entrepreneurs can extend their success beyond the cockpit. It was a grand opening for the TeeBird Air Pilot Shop in the Deer Valley Airport.
James A. Modeste is the President & CEO of TeeBird Air, Inc, a Specialized Aviation Service Operator, and an Instructor Pilot for Airline Training Center Arizona, Inc. A Lufthansa Company. Jim Modeste, a Veteran of Naval Aviation, has a BS in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s leader in aviation/aerospace education. To expand the services of his small, minority-owned business, he responded to a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the City of Phoenix Department of Aviation for a Retail Concession at Phoenix-Deer Valley Airport (DVT). Phoenix City Council approved his proposal last month.
There were many dignitaries at the opening. Last year, the movie Red Tails, educated Americans about the accomplishments and tribulations of the Tuskegee Airmen. There were several Tuskegee Airmen and their descendants present at the event. Even after the Tuskegee Airmen proved their worth, they were not afforded the recognition deserved. Archer-Ragsdale Arizona Chapter President of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., Larry Jackson told the story of how, despite winning the first Top Gun competition, they were not allowed to celebrate in the hotel.
Other attendees included Designated Original Tuskegee Airman Lt Col Asa Herring; Jim Tilmon, the third Black commercial pilot; and Darrell Sawyer, founder of Sawyer Aviation. Phoenix Council members Jim Waring and Thelda Williams also came. “I am proud of and excited about how Deer Valley Airport is progressing,” said Councilwoman Williams. “I congratulate Jim Modeste and wish him success.”
Friends like Dwayne Walker and Val Ordonez travelled up from Tucson to support his friend Modeste. Bob Wirth, a private pilot, who uses DVT, said, “I have missed having a pilot shop here. I am looking forward to it.”
Jim Modeste is excited about this unique opportunity to meet the pent-up demand for merchandise by aircraft owners and pilots at his retail store. “TeeBird Air brings pilot supplies and accessories, navigation and communication equipment along with excellence in customer service to a great location at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, one of the world’s busiest in general aviation.”