Last Saturday I was perusing the local calendar and I read that the oldest living Tuskegee Airman will be visiting the nearby Palm Springs Air Museum.
I thought, “How cool!” So Don and I grabbed some friends and made the short trip over to the museum.
I’ve wanted to go to the Palm Springs Air Museum since I moved to PS about a year or so ago. Periodically we’ve driven past it, and I say every time, “Let’s visit this museum someday.”
Well, Saturday was the day.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. During World War II, African Americans in many U.S. states were still subject to the Jim Crow laws.[N 1] The American military was racially segregated, as was much of the federal government. The Tuskegee Airmen were subjected to racial discrimination, both within and outside the army. Despite these adversities, they trained and flew with distinction.
Astonishingly, even after the Tuskegee Airmen fought valiantly for our country, they still couldn’t vote for almost 20 more years!
Lt. Col. Bob Friend, 93, part of the first all-black pilot squadron to serve in World War II, flew 142 combat missions in Europe and is one of about 45 left of the 992 original Tuskegee Airmen.
Don and Karla with Lt. Col. Bob Friend, Tuskegee Airman
A P-51 Mustang, a fighter plane from World War II and the Korean War, was also displayed as part of the museum’s “Open Cockpit” events, in which people could sit in the plane’s cockpit and pose for photos.
The Tuskegee Airmen flew a variety of aircraft, but they are best known for flying the P-51 Mustang.
Here we are “flying” Bob’s P-51!
We also took the time to look through the rest of the museum. There were plenty of docents around to explain where and how each of the aircraft were used. The collection at the Palm Spring Air Museum is mostly from WWII, and is divided into the Pacific and European theaters.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is located at:
Address: 745 N Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: (760) 778-6262