A primary goal of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. is to reach out to the youth of America and use the Tuskegee experience to mentor young people to successful and fulfilling lives and careers. In keeping with this, the chapter operates the Lee A. Archer Red Tail Youth Flying Program. The concept is to use flight instruction as a context to mentor, tutor and provide roll models for young men and women to affect positive change in their lives and in the community. In 2002, Citigroup Foundation and the United Way provided the initial infusion of funds to allow the transition of this program from concept to reality. In previous years American Express Foundation provided a $10,000.00 grant to continue our program.
Specifically, the chapter uses grants to provide ground instruction, flight training, equipment and training materials. Several chapter members are professional pilots and flight instructors. Therefore all of the instructions necessary are provided voluntarily. Another funding source for our Red Tail Youth Flying Program is the MG Trowell-Harris Chapter. Their funds go primarily to the classroom activities, field trips and transportation of the students to and from activities.
In this 14th year, this program was extended to 19 students from the Mid-Hudson Valley. Our objective and vision is to take youth from 7th grade through 12th grade and introduce and teach all facets of aviation. Course work is once a week for three hours. Our program is situated in a classroom provided by Atlantic Aviation. This environment allows a serious approach to learning. This is also an ideal way to mentor, teach life skills, teach mathematics and science and build self-esteem. We also teach the discipline that is required not only in the aviation field, but any career path they choose.
The lure that keeps the kids in the program are our mentors and the opportunity to have hands on flight training. The seniors in the program compete each year for the privilege of soloing our C172 aircraft. All students in the program have the opportunity to pilot our aircraft. More flying time is obviously dedicated to the junior and senior students. Along with the flight training, many class trips are taken each year to aviation-geared facilities to include; museums, corporate flight departments, air shows and air traffic control facilities. The program runs concurrent with the academic school year. The program is continually being modified to facilitate our student’s needs. We are better able to evaluate the success of the program by the amount of volunteer and mentor time spent with the students. The success of our program is evaluated by the success of our students going to college or post secondary programs, the amount of flight instruction received, the number of students attaining a solo, the number of students receiving a private pilot license, attrition and attendance. The prominent goal of this program is to present two of these students with FAA Private Pilot Certificates at graduation exercises in each academic year.