On Jul. 19, 1941, the AAF began a program in Alabama to train black Americans as military pilots. Primary flight training was conducted by the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute, the famed school of learning founded by Booker T. Washington in 1881. Once a cadet completed primary training at Tuskegee's Moton Field, he was sent to nearby Tuskegee Army Air Field for completion of flight training and for transition to combat type aircraft. The first classes of Tuskegee airmen were trained to be fighter pilots for the famous 99th Fighter Squadron, slated for combat duty in North Africa. Additional pilots were assigned to the 322d Fighter Group which flew combat along with the 99th Squadron from bases in Italy.
In Sep. 1943, a twin-engine training program was begun at Tuskegee to provide bomber pilots. However, World War II ended before these men were able to get into combat.
By the end of the war, 992 men had graduated from pilot training at Tuskegee, 450 of whom were sent overseas for combat assignment. During the same period, approximately 150 lost their lives while in training or on combat flights.
Additional men were trained at Tuskegee for aircrew and groundcrew duties--flight engineers, gunners, mechanics, armorers, etc. Others were sent to Texas and New Mexico for training as navigators and bombardiers.
Marching across the campus at Tuskegee Institute.
Lined up for inspection.
Student pilot being congratulated
upon completion of primary
flying course at Moton Field.
Grading a primary student at Tuskegee
on his solo landing.
A class of twin-engine pilots in front in flight caps
and single engine pilots in rear in helmets and goggles, Dec. 1943.