Tuskegee’s First Five

Tuskegee’s first five cadets to receive their wings and become official US Army Air Force pilots were in Class 42C-SE. This group of black pilots completed their pilot training on March 6, 1942, at Tuskegee Army Air Field, in Tuskegee, Alabama. Of the 13 original cadets, five graduated: Charles DeBow Jr., Benjamin O. Davis Jr., George “Spanky” Roberts, Mac Ross,…

Robert Diez

Robert Deiz was born on June 17, 1919, in Portland, Oregon.   Prior to World War II, in the late 1930s, Diez enrolled in the Civilian Pilot Training Program at Swan Island in Portland, Oregon, receiving his pilot’s license.   After graduation from the University of Oregon, Deiz joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. On September 6, 1942, Deiz graduated…

Colonel William Campbell

Tuskegee Class SE-42-F. He graduated from the program on July 3, 1942 as a second lieutenant. Campbell was then assigned to the 99th Pursuit Squadron.   Campbell flew in the first combat mission of the 99th Pursuit Squadron on June 2, 1943.   Having completed a long first combat tour, Campbell was sent back to the US and flew as…

Grumman X-29 – Warbird Wednesday Episode #123

Welcome to Warbird Wednesday! Today we are paying a special visit to an experimental aircraft with a very unique look, the Grumman X-29. This aircraft was designed to test aerodynamics; most will notice the forward-swept wings, canard control surfaces, amongst other distinctive features. Composite materials, such as graphite epoxy and carbon-fiber, were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting wings…

Mac Ross

Ross’s alma mater, West Virginia State College (now West Virginia State University) had a Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) created by the Civil Aeronautics Authority in 1939 to increase the number of active pilots in America in response to the ongoing war in Europe. The federal government had selected Tuskegee Institute as the official pilot training program site for African…

Benjamin O. Davis – Part 3

With the end of WWII in Europe, Col. Davis returned to the United States in June 1945 to command the 477th Composite Group at Godman Field, Kentucky. He later became base commander. In March 1946, he went to Lockbourne Army Air Base, Ohio, as commander of the base, and in July 1947 became Commanding Officer of the 332nd Fighter Wing.…

Benjamin O. Davis – Part 2

In July 1941, Davis entered aviation cadet training with the Tuskegee Airmen’s first class of aviation cadets, Class 42-C-SE. On March 6, 1942, Davis graduated from aviation cadet training with Captain George S. Roberts, 2nd Lt. Charles DeBow Jr., 2nd Lt. Mac Ross, and 2nd Lt. Lemuel R. Custis. Davis and his four classmates became the first African-American combat fighter…

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