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Wed, May 19, 2010

Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum Pays Tribute To The Tuskegee Airmen

Showcases Aviation-Themed After-School Program For At-Risk Youth

By Maxine Scheer, ANN Correspondent

On Saturday, May 15, 2010, five red-tails flew in tight formation over the skies of South Central Los Angeles, a day of celebration of aviation and an honor to the Tuskegee Airmen.  The young pilots who flew this tribute were trained through the efforts of an unrelenting group of advocates and supporters of at-risk youth. "History is being made today," said Robin Petgrave, Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum founder, as he proudly pointed to the fleet of red-tailed aircraft that also bear the signatures of Tuskegee Airmen who actively support the program.

To identify themselves, The Tuskegee Airmen painted the tails of their aircraft red. Those "red-tails" became a much welcomed site to bombers they escorted and successfully protected from enemy fighters during WWII.
 
The airshow in Compton this past weekend was part of an annual Aviation Industry Career Expo, a free community event that also included static displays and career exhibits from Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum supporters and collaborators that included Boeing, the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, Tuskegee Airmen, Black Women Lawyers, Southwest Airlines, Civil Air Patrol, Buffalo Soldiers, and many more.


TAM Pilots And Instructors

Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum (TAM) doesn't just talk about the problems of at-risk youth, TAM delivers results and inspires children who strive to achieve world records that set the bar for what is possible for themselves and others. The most recent being 15-year-old Kimberly Anyadike, who, with an adult safety pilot and her Tuskegee Mentor, Levi Thornhill, embarked in June 2009 on a 13 day journey, and flew a Cessna 172 cross-country from her hometown of Compton, CA to Newport News, VA. Anyadike is thought to be the youngest African American female pilot to fly a plane solo across the country.


Robin Petgrave With Tuskegee Airmen

Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum is an example of what can be done with an airport that sits in the middle of a dense urban area and a vision for a program that sets an entirely new dimension for what many people in US suburbs might describe as an enrichment program.  TAM responds to the harsh reality of the need for a safe place for children to go, after school, where they can derive the sense of empowerment that comes from structure, inspiration, support and rich subject matter.  It is a great example of how to effectively use the Airport and Aviation, not purely as a motivator for inspiring future aviation professionals, but as a tool for inspiring oneself, regardless of career interests.


Tuskegee Airman Signature

Anyadike said in an interview that she aspired to be a cardiovascular surgeon. To all those pilots out there reading this, don't cringe, go for it Kimberly! Hopefully we'll see you at future aviation events or flying your colleagues from Doctors without Borders.


Redtails On The Flightline

Ace pilot, entrepreneur and visionary, Robin Petgrave deserves a lot of the credit for exhibiting the will and energy to motivate the many volunteers and sustain a great non-profit program. Credit also goes to the Board of Supervisors and the Aviation Commission of Los Angeles County for the political will to keep Compton Airport open. TAM is looking to grow and expand to other locations as a replicable model for an after-school program. 

FMI: www.tamuseum.org/, www.tuskegeeairmen.org/

 


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