ORLANDO (Nov. 11, 2013) - On Monday, November 11, founder of Vision of Flight Mike McKenzie's dreams were realized when some long overdue recognition was given to a group of African American WWII fighter pilots. Known as the Red Tail Pilots, this subset of the Tuskegee Airmen played a quintessential role in U.S. aviation history in spite of the racial discrimination they faced at the time. The Tuskegee Airmen were collectively awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by Congress at a 2007 ceremony in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.
On November 11, Vision of Flight, Inc., along with the City of Orlando and the Orlando Science Center, dedicated a Red Tail Pilots Monument at the Orlando Science Center. A small group of the last remaining Red Tail Pilots were in attendance at the ceremony as a Red Tail Mustang P-51 flew overhead in honor of the heroes. Standing over 14 feet tall, the marble and bronze statue stands at the entrance of the Orlando Science Center's Loch Haven Park entrance.
"I met the Red Tail Pilots just over two years ago and realized I never knew their full story and what they have contributed to American history," says Mike McKenzie, founder of Vision of Flight, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preparing students for careers in the aviation industry. "Their story sparked something in me and made it my mission to get them the recognition they deserve. Thankfully, I met my now dear friend Mr. Syd Levy of United Trophy, who believed in the mission, and funded the project in its entirety."
In addition to the monument dedication, Vision of Flight presented the First Annual Acknowledgement and Scholarship Gala on Saturday, November 9 at Rosen Centre hotel in Orlando. The gala honored the largest gathering of Red Tail Pilots since 1945, while raising funds for youth scholarships. The evening gave the pilots the opportunity to share stories with each other, as well as attendees.
On Saturday, November 9, the Red Tail Pilots were further honored during the city's Veteran's Day Parade where they will take center stage as the parade's Grand Marshals. A special screening of the film "Red Tails," a 2012 feature-length film that tells the story of the Red Tail Pilots and the Tuskegee Airmen, took place in the Orlando Science Center's Digital Adventure Theater.
ABOUT VISION OF FLIGHT
Vision of Flight, Inc. is an Orlando, Florida based organization dedicated to providing students, especially those with a keen focus towards aviation/aerospace, with an introduction to the myriad careers available to them in aeronautics through an exciting, engaging and interactive program. Vision of Flight not only serves students by showing them the countless opportunities available to them in the field of aeronautics, but it serves the country by creating the needed aeronautical staff to ensure a future where air-travel remains not only possible, but plausible. Vision of Flight also seeks to keep alive the legacy of the Red Tail Pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen; ensuring the legacy of the first African-American military pilots lives on. For more information about Vision of Flight, visit www.visionofflight.org.