The general aviation terminal at Kansas City, Missouri’s Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport was renamed June 29 for 101-year-old retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, who served as the airport’s manager during the early 1980s.
McGee said he was “honored beyond words” to attend the event—his first travel opportunity since the coronavirus pandemic. He traveled to the state from his current home in Bethesda, Maryland, on a business jet provided by Textron Aviation in coordination with Private Air Media Group.
McGee served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, and amassed a total of more than 400 combat missions during a 30-year military career. He piloted a Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet on the eve of his 100th birthday in 2019 and smoothly landed it before receiving a hand-slapping welcome at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. McGee is one of only a handful of Tuskegee Airmen still alive.
A red-tailed U.S. Air Force Beechcraft T–6 Texan II turboprop trainer was parked on the ramp at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport next to a North American P–51 Mustang, reminiscent of the red-tailed aircraft Tuskegee Airmen flew during World War II while escorting heavy bombers into enemy territory.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kenyatta Ruffin, who was named in February by AOPA as the inaugural recipient of an inspiration award named for McGee, participated in the renaming ceremony. The commander of the 71st Operations Support Squadron previously praised McGee as a “true champion of freedom and flying.”