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Accelerating the Legacy 2022

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jessica Haynie
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.-- The 14th Flying Training Wing, participated in the Joint Base Charleston “Accelerating the Legacy”, Black History Month Aviation Heritage event that partnered with Legacy Flight Academy, Feb. 18-19, 2022.

The purpose of the event was to honor the past, develop the present, and promote the future, with a vison to bridge the mentorship gap among minority Airmen. Participants met and spoke with Dr. Eugene Richardson, one of the last living original Tuskegee Airmen. Richardson commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps and earned his pilots wings March 11, 1945.

“As a colored man I felt like this was great for a sense of inclusion,” said Airman 1st Class Marcus Santos, 14th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron Public Health technician, who is currently planning to transition into an aviation career. “Being able to see people that look like me, holding very prominent positions and being respected, really opened my eyes with me pursuing a career in aviation.”

The first day comprised of officer and enlisted aviation professional development briefings. Officer and enlisted groups listened to a panel of commanders and senior enlisted leaders who shared their knowledge and experience. Both groups of Airmen had an opportunity to ask questions about career development and diversity during their military careers.

“I enjoy any opportunity to mentor the next generation and current rising stars in the Air Force. The ability to network at events like these is important for mentoring and establishing relationships to promote change,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Aaron Jones, 49th Flying Training Squadron commander. “Being a part of the panel allows me to share my thoughts and ideas on how we can improve one another and in-turn make the Air Force even greater.”

CAFB also participated in the military aircraft display with a T-1 Jayhawk, T-6 Texan, and T-38 Talon as part of the Legacy Flight Academy’s ‘Eyes above the Horizon’ youth outreach program. 175 students from local schools in attendance were able to tour the aircraft and ask multiple aviation questions to a panel of U.S. Air Force pilots from a wide range of aircraft.

“The added public outreach event for the youth of the community is to expose the next generation to aviation. Some of the kids have never engaged in a first-hand experience with aviation the way they did this weekend, and truth be told, some of them have never experienced aviation with a pilot who looked like them or shared a similar background,” said Jones. “If we are genuinely concerned with bridging the gap on diversity, then I believe it is imperative that we continue to show case the Air Force’s diverse talent across the nation.”

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