In a tribute to Black History Month, Fantasy of Flight in Polk County hosted a tribute to the Tuskegee airmen with a panel featuring three of the surviving aviators who served bravely in World War II and fought racial prejudice on the home front.
On hand were Lt. Col. Leo Gray, Lt. Col. George Hardy, and Col. Charles McGee. The moderator was Captain Barrington A. Irving, Jr.
As you can see in the slideshow above, the airmen gave a presentation describing what it was like to break racial barriers as their served their country. Ironically, they explained that black officers were treated with more respect by the Germans when captured as prisoners of war than they were by their fellow Americans. The airmen then took questions from the rapt audience and did a meet and greet and autograph session.
Later in the day, Fantasy of Flight owner Kermit Weeks did a flight demonstration in a restored Red Tail as a tribute to the airmen. You can see it in the slideshow.
"They Dared to Fly" continues on Friday, February 8, and Saturday, February 9. The panel will appear both days to share more of their experiences. It's part of the Legends & Legacies series, which continues throughout 2013. If you'd like to meet these living legends for yourself, the panel talks and meet and greets are included with Fantasy of Flight admission.
You can also tour the maintenance and restoration areas and hop aboard the trolley to visit Golden Hill, a holding area for aircraft awaiting restoration. Check out a slideshow of some of those planes by continuing on to the next article.