111th Fighter Wing hosts Tuskegee Airmen Youth Day
By Tech. Sgt. Jonathan White, 111th FIghter Wing
/ Published August 06, 2008
WILLOW GROVE AIR RESERVE STATION, Pa., -- Several youth organizations and service members participated in Tuskegee Airmen Youth Day at the Willow Grove Air Reserve Station, Pa. here July 19. Some activities included: life support training, operation of night vision goggles, and speaking through the intercom of a military aircraft. Those attending were treated to a living piece of history.
Guess speaker Charles T. Cross, Tuskegee Airman and President of Negro Airmen International Incorporated (NAI Inc.), spoke to the children about the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, participating in aviation, and the critical importance of education and staying in school.
According to Cross, "Everybody wants to be a hero. Easy things are accomplished by everybody, but the more difficult things are accomplished by those who have the perseverance, determination, and the skills in spite of what they may encounter." He further stated that "There's nothing in this world you can't do if you want to do it."
Many individuals are capitalizing on the opportunities created for them by Cross and other Tuskegee Airmen like him.
Maj Kimberly Scott of the 446th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, located at McChord Air Force Base is one of these individuals. She is a KC-135 and C-17 pilot who has attended the convention for approximately the last 4 years.
"It has been just amazing. I went to the Air Force Academy and flew the KC-135 and C-17. There are so few African American female pilots; it really helps girls to see other women flying. I hope I can have the same positive impact on someone else that the people who went before me had on me." said Scott.
The positive impact of Cross' message and Scott's achievements can be seen in youths like Diamond Hooper of Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum. The 15 year-old high school sophomore from Compton, Calif. participates in a flight program that teaches young people how to fly. Hooper has flown a Cessna 172 RG.
"They train us to fly and get us ready for whatever careers we're going into." said Hooper. "How many kids do you know that fly? My friends are like, you don't even know how to drive a car!" Hooper said that she wants to obtain her pilot's license and would like to one day be a Coast Guard diver.
"Today's been fabulous. The kids' eyes are wide open because most haven't seen anything like this before," said Derrick H. Pitts, President of The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. "These kids get to see what the Air Force does and get close to the planes, an experience they haven't had before. Maybe it'll spark an interest to pursue this later in their lives."
The youth programs in attendance were; Young Minds That Soar, the Franklin Institute Science Museum, the Delaware Police Athletic League, the Caring Place of Allentown Pa., Summer Transportation Institute from Cheney University, and other Tuskegee Airmen Inc. youth programs. Also present were the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Air Force Academy.