January 24, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
For the third year, Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Fla., is sponsoring a student essay contest that honors the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African-American military aviators. The contest is being held in conjunction with an appearance by several original Tuskegee Airmen Feb. 7 through 9 to kick off the museum’s celebration of Black History Month.
Students in grades six through 12 are eligible to enter the contest, themed “They Dared to Fly” in reference to the values that landed the Tuskegee Airmen in the history books—leadership, excellence, advocacy, and determination. Required essay length for students in grades six through eight is 350 words; 500 words for students in grades nine through 12. Entries will be judged on overall content, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, legibility and penmanship (as applicable).
The deadline for the essay contest is 5 p.m., Feb. 22. Winners will be announced March 8. First place winners in each of two categories (grades six through eight and nine through 12) will take home $500; two second place winners each will receive $300.
Of the original group of nearly 1,000 trained pilots and 15,000 ground personnel that made up the Tuskegee Airmen, approximately only 40 pilots and 200 ground crew are alive today. Fantasy of Flight encourages visitors to take advantage of what is becoming an increasingly rare opportunity to visit with several of these famed aviators and hear their stories firsthand at the first six of the 2013 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series.
The Tuskegee Airmen in attendance will be George E. Hardy, Leo. R. Gray, Daniel Keel and Charles E.McGee. Roy Archer, son of Tuskegee Airman Lee Andrew Archer Jr., is scheduled to retell his father’s story during the series.
Other topics in the series are “Beyond the Battlefield,” March 8 and 9; “The First World War,” April 6; “D-Day: Normandy & Beyond,” May 3 and 4; “Espionage: The Cold War,” Oct. 4 and 5; and “Veteran’s Day Salute: A Celebration of Service,” Nov. 9 and 10.
Symposium events are included in the price of Fantasy of Flight general admission and are free for annual pass holders. General admission is $29.95 for adults, $27.95 for seniors ages 55 and over and $15.95 for children ages 6 through 12, plus 7 percent sales tax. Children five and under are free with full paying adult. For more information, call 863/984-3500, ext. 220. For general information, visit the website.
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Candler Field Flying Club is a young group focused on teaching young people to fly.
Thought about participating in a charitable flying event? Many nonprofit groups host a day at the airport in which volunteer pilots can give flights to eager fledglings. Check with your local airport about what may be scheduled for 2014.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.