The formation of the Tuskegee Airmen in 1941 forever changed the path of aspiring African-American aviators. Now, a donation of a Sikorsky, believed to be an S-76, is helping the Trowell-Harris Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen continue that legacy. The helicopter, from an anonymous donor, was used to help launch RedTail Flight Academy in New York.
RedTail Flight Academy will allow high school graduates to earn commercial pilot certificates with multi-engine and instrument ratings within 10 to 12 months. In addition to flying, the program will serve as exposure to other facets of the aviation industry.
“An appealing aspect of the program is that it’s all-encompassing—it will teach students all about aviation, from A to Z,” said Michael McCafferty, v-p Northeast of Guardian Jet, who worked closely with this project.
After receiving the helicopter, the chapter, with the help of Guardian Jet’s brokerage services, was able to find a buyer. Proceeds from the transaction will be used to not only fund scholarships that cover the full cost of flight training for participants, estimated at $80,000, but also finance the purchase of two training airplanes. Right now, the Piper Pilot 100i and the Vulcanair V1 are being considered. The program is looking for funding for an additional three aircraft.
Captain Glen Fraser, director of the Lee Archer RedTail Youth Flying Program-RedTail Flight Academy, said that when he graduated from Embry-Riddle in 1994, the minority population in aviation was less than 2 percent and that to this day the number still remains the same.
Fraser added, “There’s so much need that is approaching here in the next 10 to 15 years for pilots in this industry, I don’t want to see an underserved community not be able to get this opportunity to fill a great lifestyle and career that we are very passionate about. We want to share that passion with them.”
Applications for the program will be available to members of multiple Tuskegee Airmen chapters. The first class of six will be in the fall 2021.