Behind the Wings ®
The Podcast – S3, Episode 28
The Tuskegee Airmen were an experiment by the US Army Air Corps to determine whether Black pilots could handle military flying. (It turns out they could!) But the Tuskegee Airmen fought a second battle – one against racial discrimination.
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With an impressive combat record and war accomplishments, the success of the Tuskegee Airmen helped influence then-President Harry Truman’s decision to desegregate the armed forces in 1948.
Our Guest today is Bill Shepard. Bill is the former Vice President of Education for the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), and former CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader. Bill’s passion for aviation started with a love of flying at a young age, and on today’s show, he explores with us the path that led him to proudly fly the P-51C Mustang for the CAF Red Tail Squadron.
From Bill’s personal journey with aviation, to the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, there’s a LOT to explore in this one!
Col. James Harvey at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.
- Bill earned his US private pilot’s license at age 16 while still in high school
- The 6 Tuskegee principles are: Aim High, Believe in Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready to Go, Never Quit and Expect to Win
- The Tuskegee Airmen helped influence President Harry Truman to sign Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948, mandating the desegregation of the U.S. military.
- Lt. Col. James H. Harvey III was a pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Tuskegee Airmen. He later piloted on the team that won the military’s first ‘Top Gun’ contest in 1949.
- The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was a U.S. Army Air Forces program that tasked some 1,100 civilian women with noncombat military flight duties during World War II.
- Bill’s advice: Dream big, work hard, and never give up!
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