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Red Tails honor Black History Month with all-black flight

U.S. Air Force pilots, assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron at the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard, prepare to fly an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

U.S. Air Force pilots, assigned to the 100th Fighter Squadron at the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard, prepare to fly an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jadin Jackson, a crew chief assigned to the 187th Fighter Wing's Maintenance Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard, prepares an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft prior to a training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jadin Jackson, a crew chief assigned to the 187th Fighter Wing's Maintenance Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard, prepares an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft prior to a training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photo by Jared Rand)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jadin Jackson, a crew chief assigned to the 187th Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard, salutes 1st Lt. Lucas Brown, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 377th Fighter Squadron, during an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photo by Jared Rand)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jadin Jackson, a crew chief assigned to the 187th Fighter Wing's Maintenance Squadron, Alabama Air National Guard, salutes 1st Lt. Lucas Brown, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 377th Fighter Squadron, during an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

U.S. Air Force Airmen, assigned to the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard, pose for a photo with Airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 18, 2020. A KC-135R Stratotanker from Fairchild AFB refueled 187th FW F-16 Fighting Falcons during an all-black aircrew sortie in honor of Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Airmen, assigned to the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard, pose for a photo with Airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 18, 2020. A KC-135R Stratotanker from Fairchild AFB refueled 187th FW F-16 Fighting Falcons during an all-black aircrew sortie in honor of Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. -- Seventy-eight years after the Tuskegee Airmen’s 100th Pursuit Squadron was activated at Tuskegee Army Air Field, four modern-day Red Tails took to the skies over Alabama.

The pilots from today’s 100th Fighter Squadron, located at the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard, flew their F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft on a special training mission composed of all-black aircrew to honor Black History Month and commemorate their forebears, the Tuskegee Airmen, February 18, 2020.

“I think it’s important to have the opportunity for under-represented people in the Air Force to shine, and to pay tribute to those trailblazers who came before us and went through so much adversity,” said 1st Lt. Lucas Brown, an F-16 fighter pilot.

Brown worked with squadron leadership to arrange the flight, coordinating it in conjunction with a Basic Fighter Maneuvers training sortie. The fighter jets were refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen.

Capt. Jazmind Roberts, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron pilot, came up with the idea for the flight and corresponded with Brown over social media to bring the idea to life.

“I thought about how [Team Fairchild] should do something in regards to aviation and black history month,” said Roberts. “I wanted to do something inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen, something that represents our heritage. We’ve made it from being enslaved to gaining civil rights; look how far we've come now.”

Many members of the 100th Fighter Squadron are involved in community outreach efforts to motivate and inspire the next generation of aviation professionals. For Brown, flying the mission was as much about looking to the future as remembering the past.

“Not only is it important for us to carry the torch, but we also need to pass it on,” Brown said. “There might be kids out there who have never seen a black fighter pilot. Sometimes all you need is to see someone who looks like you doing something for you to envision that as a possibility.”

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