July 26, 2023 – The American Heritage Museum takes immense pride in commemorating the remarkable achievements and indomitable spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen by officially transferring its iconic Boeing PT-17 “Stearman” s/n 41-25454 primary trainer aircraft that has documented history with the group to join the incredible collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) in Dayton, OH. The transfer ceremony was held on the 75th Anniversary of the Integration of the US Air Force on July 26th, 2023 at Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington, DC and marks a significant milestone in preserving the legacy of these trailblazing aviators whose courage and dedication shattered racial barriers and forged a path of excellence for future generations.
The PT-17 Stearman holds a special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts and historians alike. Among its many roles in WWII, it trained Tuskegee Airmen at Mouton Field in Tuskegee, AL. Not only did graduates from the program fly and fight in combat, but they did so while simultaneously defying prejudice and discrimination as they served their country with valor and honor. These individuals served in numerous theaters throughout the conflict, most notably in Europe with the 332nd Fighter Group, best known as the “Red Tails.”
“Let us remember that those who flew and supported this plane, those who started their journey to conquer the skies ultimately changed our air force, our armed forces and the nation for the better.” Said General C.Q. Brown, the 22nd chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force in remarks during the ceremony. General Brown is the first African American to lead any branch of the United States Armed Forces.
The ceremony held at Joint Base Andrews, gathered distinguished guests, government leaders, veterans, uniformed personnel, members of the media, and American Heritage Museum supporters, all eager to witness the historic moment as the PT-17 Stearman commenced its new chapter with the NMUSAF. Among the esteemed attendees were Col. Carl Johnson, Lt. Col. Shelton Ivan Ware, and William Thomas Fauntroy, Jr., three surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen and their families, adding a deeply emotional touch to the event.
Rob Collings, President of the American Heritage Museum, spoke passionately about the significance of this transfer, stating, “The PT-17 Stearman represents not only the aircraft that trained these valiant pilots but serves as a symbol of unity, perseverance, and the fight against adversity. It is an honor for the American Heritage Museum to be a part of this momentous occasion, as we pay tribute to the incredible accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen.”
The National Museum of the United States Air Force, renowned for its commitment to preserving the legacy of the United States Air Force, now embraces the PT-17 Stearman as a treasured addition to its collection. The aircraft will be prominently displayed, allowing visitors from around the world to immerse themselves in the inspiring story of the Tuskegee Airmen and their remarkable contributions to the nation’s history.
As we look back on this momentous event, the American Heritage Museum remains steadfast in its mission to preserve and share the inspiring stories of those who have bravely served our country. The conveyance of the PT-17 Stearman further reinforces our mission of honoring the valiant individuals who have shaped America’s history and their immeasurable impact on our society. The American Heritage Museum furthers its commitment to the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen as it now embarks on the restoration of the sole remaining Fairchild PT-19 Recruit trainer with documented operational history with the group during WWII. Once complete, the PT-19 will become a featured exhibit within the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen.
For more information about the American Heritage Museum and its dedication to preserving our nation’s military heritage, please visit https://www.AmericanHeritageMuseum.org . For more information on the Tuskegee Airmen PT-19A project, please visit https://ahmus.me/PT19 .
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GALLERY (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force Public Affairs)
“Tuskegee Airmen celebrated during aircraft exchange ceremony on Joint Base Andrews” – WJLA ABC-7 Virginia