BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Tuskegee Airmen are set to return to Daytona Beach next month.
The legendary Black pilot war heroes will be on hand for the ‘The Rise Above Tuskegee Airmen Red Tail Traveling Exhibit,’’ which tells their story. The exhibit will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 3-4 at Campbell Middle School, 625 Keech St., Daytona Beach. The event is free to the public.
Three original members – pilots Charles “Doc’’ Holiday, Daniel Keel and Hiram E. Mann – are scheduled again to be at the exhibit.
“They have an inspiring story. It is on the heels of Black History Month and they show that all kids can inspire to achieve,” said Daytona Beach’s Leisure Services Director Percy Willamson.
The City of Daytona Beach, City of New Smyrna Beach, Pepsi Bottling Company, Vitas Innovative Hospice Care, Mary McLeod Bethune Legacy Preservation Institute and the Courtyard Marriott are sponsors.
“We want to thank all of our business partners for their support in this endeavor. The city contributed as well and we are pleased that the business community saw fit to bring this exhibit and rich part of our history to our community,” Williamson added.
The Tuskegee Airmen are a group of Black fighter pilots during World War II. They were officially active from 1941-1949.
They were members of the United States Army Air Corps and the first Black aviators in the military. The men often faced discrimination from their peers, including White pilots. The Black aviators were instrumental in integrating the U.S. armed forces.
Tuskegee Airmen flew the P51 Mustang model aircraft, the P51 Mustang, the P39 Aircobra, the P40 Warhawk and the P47 Thunderbolt.
More kids this year
It is estimated that around 500 people attended the event in Daytona last year, but officials are hoping for larger numbers next month.
“They were received tremendously well last year. The only thing is that we didn’t have as many kids because it was the spring break time with our local schools. We are definitely looking for larger numbers of people to come out to this year’s exhibit,” stated Williamson.
Having the exhibit at Campbell is intended to educate, motivate and inspire children to succeed in life. It also aims to get more kids out to the event.
“Campbell is a great location. They have about 600 kids who will get to see the exhibit. Teachers can just walk them down the hall instead of having to transport them somewhere. A lot of students will see the exhibit, watch the film and get to meet the heroes.”
The exhibit also will make a stop in New Smyrna Beach again. It will be at the Balloon & Sky Festival at the New Smyrna Beach Airport April 5-6. The famous Red Tail P51 Mustang aircraft will be featured at the show.
For more information or to reserve a group, contact the Daytona Beach Leisure Services at 386-671-8331.