Fantasy of Flight Celebrates Black History Month in February With Visit From Famed Tuskegee Airmen

They Dared to Fly" will be held Thurs., Feb. 10 through Sat., Feb. 12 and feature several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions as well as meet/greet autograph signings with five of the original Tuskegee Airmen.


POLK CITY, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2011) - What better way to celebrate Black History Month in February than with the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary World War II aviation heroes who will share their personal stories with the public at Fantasy of Flight during a three-day limited engagement event called "They Dared to Fly."

The Tuskegee Airmen tribute is part of Fantasy of Flight's Third Annual Legends & Legacies Symposium Series. For three unforgettable days, guests can experience firsthand what it was like to serve as a pilot in the military during segregated America. The pilots will share stories about their military service and unprecedented success despite operating in these segregated units. Of the original group of nearly 1,000 trained pilots and 15,000 ground personnel that made up the Tuskegee Airmen, roughly 100 pilots and 200 ground crew are alive today.

"They Dared to Fly" will be held Thurs., Feb. 10 through Sat., Feb. 12 and feature several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions at the symposium as well as meet/greet autograph signings with five of the original Tuskegee Airmen: Hiram E. Mann, Raymond Cassagnol, George E. Hardy, Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., and Leo. R. Gray. The symposiums are included in the attraction's general admission price.

Roy Archer, son of airman Lee Andrew Archer, Jr. will retell his father's story during the series. Archer dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot at an early age. That dream became a reality when he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps' and became one of the Tuskegee Airmen. During the 169 combat missions he flew in the European Theater, Archer was credited with downing five enemy aircraft, earning him the coveted title of "Ace." Lee Archer passed away last year.

In addition to the symposium, Fantasy of Flight will host a special, reservations-only luncheon with limited seating in honor of these original aviation veterans. The luncheon will be held Fri., Feb. 11, at noon at the Orlampa Conference Center at Fantasy of Flight. Tickets are $65 plus tax per person and reservations are required. For tickets, visit www.fantasyofflight.com/livinghistory or call 863-984-3500, ext. 220. Corporate tables and individual tickets are available.

Finally, in tribute to the Tuskegee, fourth through twelfth grade students are invited to participate in a contest writing essays that focus on leadership, excellence, advocacy, and determination, virtues that helped the Tuskegee Airmen achieve success or about how these principles can help students achieve goals. Cash prizes are available, with entries due on or before 5 p.m., Mon., Feb. 28, 2011. More details are available at www.fantasyofflight.com.

A brief bio for each of the participating airmen includes:

• Hiram E. Mann (Titusville, Fla.) - Mann entered the Army Air Corps as a Pre-Aviation Student in 1942. He became an Aviation Cadet and completed Single-Engine Combat Pilot Training at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF). Mann flew combat missions around the world before retiring after 21 years of service. He now lives in Titusville. Florida.

• Lt. Raymond Cassagnol (Oviedo, Fla.) - Cassagnol is an aviation pioneer. In January 1943, he was one of three enlisted airmen from Haiti, selected for training in America. After successfully completing all phases of military flight training, Raymond Cassagnol received his pilot wings; the first of five Haitian pilots to graduate at Tuskegee. His contributions to World War II have made him a celebrity in his own right. Appearing in venues nationwide, 90-year old Raymond Cassagnol is the last-known surviving Haitian-Tuskegee Airman.

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