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Meet the Tuskegee Airmen! | News

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Meet the Tuskegee Airmen!

Polk City, Florida - Their stories are gliding right out of the pages of our history books this weekend. Three Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black fighter pilots, are telling their own stories of perseverance and persistence in person in the Bay area.

Out of all of the movies, documentaries and books written, there is perhaps no better way to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen than from the Tuskegee Airmen themselves. Daniel Keel, George Hardy, and Charles McGee are sharing their stories during a two day event at Fantasy of Flight in Polk City.

-"They Dared to Fly", featuring several surviving Tuskegee Airmen at Fantasy of Flight: 1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E. in Polk City. Friday Feb. 7 and Saturday, Feb. 8th at 11 a.m.-

George Hardy is a Tuskegee Airman who is part of the event. He lives in Sarasota and says, "We showed that we could do it as well as anybody else and that was key, but education was such a strong factor in there."

The Tuskegee Airmen are the first black pilots in the military. Formed in the 1940's they became an elite unit despite facing the most incredible odds- including racism and segregation. Many fought in World War II.

Pat Gross and his father arrived at Friday's event early, well before they even opened the doors to the public, to hear the three speak. 

"Nothing stopped them. Nothing held them back. Every obstacle that was given to them, they either pushed it aside, or learned to cope with it to make sure that they got to their ultimate goal of becoming a fighter pilot," Pat said of the airmen.

And not only does the audience have a chance to hear the oral history, but like the Grant family, they have a chance to see the airmen's vintage aircraft collection, like the P-51C Mustang "Red Tail", up close and personal. 

Sydney Grant is in the eighth grade and was out of school Friday for Fair Day, but her father insisted that she and her brother attend the "They Dared to Fly" event at Fantasy of Flight instead.

"I think it's a very good experience for me because I have never seen anything like this, and my dad has a bunch of pictures up on his wall of these planes," said Sydney. "And that I actually get to see them in real life, is really cool."

The Tuskegee Airman will make a second appearance on Saturday, February 8th sharing their message of determination against the odds in the past with a hope for the future. 

"Everybody ought to serve a period for this country," said Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman.

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