NASA Engineer Helps Preserve Legacy of Tuskegee Airmen

NASA Engineer Helps Preserve Legacy of Tuskegee Airmen
November 3, 2015
Tuskegee Airmen
During a week this past summer, a group of underwater explorers embarked on a mission to preserve part of America's heritage. According to team member and NASA engineer Erik Denson, it was a "mission of a lifetime."

November 3, 2015
By Bob Granath
NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida - Photo Credit: NASA.gov

During a week this past summer, a group of underwater explorers embarked on a mission to preserve part of America's heritage. According to team member and NASA engineer Erik Denson, it was a "mission of a lifetime."

On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, Americans will pause to honor those who have served in the nation's military services. Denson and a small team of underwater divers are helping maintain the history of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Formally organized as the 332nd Fighter Wing and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Force, the Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American fighter and bomber pilots. The group also included the navigators, bombardiers, mechanics, instructors, crew chiefs, nurses, cooks and others who supported the airmen. The military pilots trained at Moton Field near Tuskegee, Alabama.

"During World War II, Michigan was home to several African-American air combat units including many graduates of the Tuskegee pilot training program," Denson said. "Army Air Force pilots were simulating aerial combat and bombing exercises over Lake Huron, as the climate and terrain mimicked what they would see in Europe."

Due to the realistic nature of such war-time simulations, at least seven pilots of the 332nd Fighter Wing tragically lost their lives while training over water near Michigan. Denson noted that a P-39Q Airacobra fighter plane was found last year by a member of the local county sheriff’s department. The plane was flown by 2nd Lt. Frank Moody, a Tuskegee pilot from Castle, Oklahoma. Moody was killed in the 1944 crash. While his body was quickly recovered, the aircraft was lost.

For more information: http://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-engineer-helps-preserve-legacy-of-tuske...