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Our Special Thanks to the City of Tuskegee, Macon County Commissions/Government, Volunteers, Participants, Friends (you the Tuskegee Community) and guest/visitors who all helped in the planning and implementation of this year’s annual Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Weekend of Events and Activities. It was a sounding success, in spite of certain weather conditions.  Stay tuned for details of the actual activities.

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MOTON FIELD

Moton Field

Moton Field was the only primary flight facility for African-American pilot candidates in the U.S. Army Air Corps (Army Air Forces) during World War II. It was named for Robert Russa Moton, second president of Tuskegee Institute.

Moton Field was built between 1940-1942 with funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund to provide primary flight training under a contract with the U.S. military. Staff from Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama, provided assistance in selecting and mapping the site. Architect Edward C. Miller and engineer G. L. Washington designed many of the structures. Archie A. Alexander, an engineer and contractor, oversaw construction of the flight school facilities. Tuskegee Institute laborers and skilled workers helped finish the field so that flight training could start on time.[1]

The Army Air Corps assigned officers to oversee the training at Tuskegee Institute/Moton Field. They furnished cadets with textbooks, flying clothes, parachutes, and mechanic suits. Tuskegee Institute, the civilian contractor, provided facilities for the aircraft and personnel, including quarters and a mess for the cadets, hangars and maintenance shops, and offices for Air Corps personnel, flight instructors, ground school instructors, and mechanics. Tuskegee Institute was one of the very few American institutions to own, develop, and control facilities for military flight instruction.[1] In addition to the flight training at Moton Field, the following known sub-bases and auxiliaries were used:

  • Calabee Flight Strip
  • Hardaway Auxiliary Field (Location Undetermined)
  • Kennedy Auxiliary Field (Tuskegee Institute Field #1)

In late March 1941 Ms. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, visited Kennedy Field in the Tuskegee area and was taken up in an aircraft piloted by C. Alfred “Chief” Anderson, Tuskegee Institute’s chief instructor pilot. Ms. Roosevelt was a Rosenwald Fund trustee who helped secure financing for the construction of Moton Field at Tuskegee.[2]

Moton Field Flight Instructors in front of BT-13 Stearmans – 1945

The first class (42-C), which included student officer Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., began training on July 19, 1941. who served as Commandant of Cadets. Twelve cadets served with him under Captain Noel F. Parrish, a white officer, and 2d Lieutenant Harold C. Magoon, another white officer, who served as the adjutant. The other cadets were: John C. Anderson, Jr., Charles D. Brown, Theodore E. Brown, Marion A. Carter, Lemuel R. Custis, Charles H. DeBow, Jr., Frederick H. Moore, Ulysses S. Pannell, George S. Roberts, Mac Ross, William H. Slade, and Roderick C. Williams. Only five of these cadets completed the flying training at Tuskegee, in March 1942.[2]

Rigorous training in subjects such as meteorology, navigation, and instruments was provided in ground school. After pilot cadets passed primary flight training at Moton Field, they transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) to complete their training with the Army Air Forces. TAAF was a full-scale military base (albeit segregated) built by the U.S. military. The facility at Moton Field included two aircraft hangars, a control tower, locker building, clubhouse, wooden offices and storage buildings, brick storage buildings, and a vehicle maintenance area.[1]

Many cadets got their primary flight instruction at Moton Field. Support personnel were trained at Chanute Field in Illinois. . Between 1941 and 1945, Tuskegee Institute trained over 1,000 black aviators for the war effort.[1]

Moton Field was closed in 1946. In 1972, a large portion of the airfield at Moton Field was deeded to the city of Tuskegee for use as a municipal airport which is still in use today.

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Did You Know?

Did you known that during WWII there were a number of Tuskegee Airmen who were of different nationalities and races other then African Americans? Some blacks were even questioned as being black because they could pass for white.

Tuskegee Airmen Wilmeth Sidat-Singh (02/13/18 -5/ 9/43) also known as “The Syracuse Walking Dream” is the son of a Manhattan physician from India and Negro mother who was adopted by the physician and given his family name of Sidat-Singh. Born in Washington DC, Sidat-Singh was a graduate of Syracuse University were he played both football and basketball. At the time Syracuse University and nearby Cornell University were among the first collegiate football teams to include African-American players as starting backfield players. In that era, were segregation in the Southern states excluded African-American players from Northern schools from taking the field. For Sidat-Singh his light complexion and name which was assumed to be a “Hindu” he was able to compete when Syracuse traved to Southern states.

With unofficial bans on black players enacted in both the NBL and NFL, Sidat-Singh played briefly for a professional barnstorming basketball team in Syracuse and then joined the Washington, D.C., police. After U.S. entry into World War II, he applied and was accepted as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the only African-American unit in the U.S. Army Air Force, and won his wings as a pilot. Sidat-Singh died in 1943 during a training mission when the engine of his airplane failed. He drowned in Lake Huron.

“Sidat-Singh was my hero, my idol,” says Lee Archer, a Tuskegee Airman and World War II ace who once shot down three Nazi planes on a single bomber-escort mission. “He is why I became a pilot”.

The Friends of Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site invite you to experience the amazing history of the Tuskegee Airmen at the National Historic Site at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama.

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