WHAT: In February in honor of National Black History month and in tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, fourth through twelfth grade students participated in a Fantasy of Flight contest writing essays that focused on leadership, excellence, advocacy, and determination, virtues that helped the Tuskegee Airmen achieve success.
Now award winners will be on-hand this Thursday at Fantasy of Flight to receive not only cash prizes and trophies, but a rare opportunity to receive their awards from their real-life heroes. Tuskegee Airmen Hiram Mann, Titusville, Leo Gray, Ft. Lauderdale, and other black military pilots will be at Fantasy of Flight as part of the 66th Anniversary of the 332nd Red Tail Pilots Mission to Berlin. This is the first time the group has reunited since returning stateside in 1945.
The Tuskegee Airman were the first African Americans to be trained as WWII military pilots. On March 24, 1945, the 332nd flew a mission over Berlin, shooting down three German jet aircraft and damaging two others. They received a Presidential Unit Citation for that mission. 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. Five distinguished Tuskegee Airmen were featured in February's Fantasy of Flight "Legends & Legacies Symposium Series" in "They Dared to Fly" to share their recollections of wartime military service during segregated America.
Fantasy of Flight's permanent multi-media Tuskegee Airmen exhibit, which also includes previously recorded interviews with several of the pioneering Airmen, provides the perfect backdrop for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for award winners to meet the brave men who fought America's enemies abroad while enduring racism at home.
WHO: Award winners include: High School - First Place, Jimmy Liason, Lake Wales Sr. High, Lake Wales, Fla., Second Place, David Wilhite, Summerlin Avenue X, Winter Haven, Fla.; Middle School - First Place, Dylan Skroskznik, Stewart Middle Magnet, Tampa, Fla., Second Place, Altorian Salary, Stewart Middle Magnet, Tampa, Fla., Third Place, Christopher P. Clark, Calvery School, Lutz, Fla.; Elementary School - First Place, Madison Autry, St. Lukes Lutheran School, Chuluota, Fla.
WHEN: Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11 am
WHERE: Officer's Club at Fantasy of Flight, home to the World's Greatest Aircraft Collection with over 40 rare and vintage aircraft on display. Fantasy of Flight is located off I-4 at Exit 44 midway between Orlando and Tampa. 1400 Broadway Blvd., S.E., Polk City, Fla. 33868.
WHY: This very special appearance by the few remaining African-American WWII combat pilots is a special treat for essay contest winners.
HOW: For tickets or more information, visit www.fantasyofflight.com or call (863) 984-3500.