Red Tails honor Black History Month with all-black flight

Photo of pilots preparing for sortie.

100th Fighter Squadron pilots prepare to fly an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. Portions of this photo were blurred for security purposes. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

Photo of 1st Lt. Lucas Brown, F-16 pilot with the 377th Fighter Squadron, preparing to fly.

1st Lt. Lucas Brown, F-16 pilot with the 377th Fighter Squadron, prepares to fly an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

Photo of Maj. Rich Peace, F-16 pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron, preparing to fly.

Maj. Rich Peace, F-16 pilot with the 100th Fighter Squadron, prepares to fly an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

Photo of Airman First Class Jadin Jackson, a crew chief with the 187th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Airman First Class Jadin Jackson, a crew chief with the 187th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepares an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft prior to a training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

A photo of crew chief saluting pilot.

Airman First Class Jadin Jackson, F-16 crew chief with the 187th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, salutes 1st Lt. Lucas Brown, F-16 pilot with the 377th Fighter Squadron, during an all-black training sortie to commemorate Black History Month and honor the Tuskegee Airmen February 18, 2020 at Dannelly Field, Ala. A KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen, refueled the four F-16 Fighting Falcons during the mission. (US Air National Guard photos by Jared Rand)

Four F-16 Falcons of the Red Tail Squadron from the 187th Fighter Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, fly in formation next to a Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 Stratotanker over Montgomery, February 18, 2020. The flight took place to represent black military heritage and provide tribute to the WWII Tuskegee Airmen, who played a significant wartime role and paved the way for minority representation in today’s Air Force.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

Four F-16 Falcons of the Red Tail Squadron from the 187th Fighter Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, fly in formation next to a Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 Stratotanker over Montgomery, February 18, 2020. The flight took place to represent black military heritage and provide tribute to the WWII Tuskegee Airmen, who played a significant wartime role and paved the way for minority representation in today’s Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathon Rogers, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, performs air refueling maneuvers with an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Red Tail Squadron of the 187th Fighter Wing while flying over Alabama, February 18, 2020. Every F-16 that participated in the air refueling was piloted by a black Airman from the Tuskegee Airmen’s honorary ‘Red Tail’ Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jonathon Rogers, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, performs air refueling maneuvers with an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Red Tail Squadron of the 187th Fighter Wing while flying over Alabama, February 18, 2020. Every F-16 that participated in the air refueling was piloted by a black Airman from the Tuskegee Airmen’s honorary ‘Red Tail’ Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

A Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a Maxwell Air Force Base F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Red Tail Squadron of the 187th Fighter Wing from while flying over Alabama, February 18, 2020. The Red Tail Squadron was home to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black squadron in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

A Fairchild Air Force Base KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a Maxwell Air Force Base F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Red Tail Squadron of the 187th Fighter Wing from while flying over Alabama, February 18, 2020. The Red Tail Squadron was home to the Tuskegee Airmen, the first all-black squadron in the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jazmind Roberts, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron pilot, flies a KC-135 Stratotanker over Alabama, February 18, 2020. Roberts coordinated an all-black aircrew for a refueling mission to Maxwell Air Force Base,  Alabama, to refuel four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Red Tail Squadron of the 187 Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jazmind Roberts, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron pilot, flies a KC-135 Stratotanker over Alabama, February 18, 2020. Roberts coordinated an all-black aircrew for a refueling mission to Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, to refuel four F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Red Tail Squadron of the 187 Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

Fairchild Air Force Base Airmen pose for a photo with Red Tail Squadron members of 187th Fighter Wing in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 18, 2020. Team Fairchild Airmen refueled F-16 Fighting Falcons piloted by the Airmen from the Red Tail Squadron in honor of Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)
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Fairchild Air Force Base Airmen pose for a photo with Red Tail Squadron members of 187th Fighter Wing in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 18, 2020. Team Fairchild Airmen refueled F-16 Fighting Falcons piloted by the Airmen from the Red Tail Squadron in honor of Black History Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kiaundra Miller)

DANNELLY FIELD, Ala. --

Seventy eight years after the Tuskegee Airmen’s 100th Pursuit Squadron was activated at Tuskegee Army Air Field, four modern day Red Tails took to the skies over Alabama.

The pilots from today’s 100th Fighter Squadron here flew their F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft on a special training mission composed of all-black aircrew to honor Black History Month and commemorate their forebears, the Tuskegee Airmen, February 18, 2020.

“I think it’s important to have the opportunity for underrepresented people in the Air Force to shine, and to pay tribute to those trailblazers who came before us and went through so much adversity,” said 1st Lt. Lucas Brown, F-16 Fighter Pilot.

Brown worked with squadron leadership to arrange the flight, coordinating it in conjunction with a Basic Fighter Maneuvers training sortie. The fighter jets were refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., also piloted and crewed by black Airmen.

Capt. Jazmind Roberts, 93rd Air Refueling Squadron pilot, came up with the idea for the flight and corresponded with Brown over social media to bring the idea to life.

“I thought about how [Team Fairchild] should do something in regards to aviation and black history month,” said Roberts. “I wanted to do something inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen, something that represents our heritage. We’ve made it from being enslaved to gaining civil rights; look how far we have come now.”

Many members of the 100th Fighter Squadron are involved in community outreach efforts to motivate and inspire the next generation of aviation professionals. For Brown, flying the mission was as much about looking to the future as remembering the past.  

“Not only is it important for us to carry the torch, but we also need to pass it on,” Brown said. “There might be kids out there who have never seen a black fighter pilot. Sometimes all you need is to see someone who looks like you doing something for you to envision that as a possibility.”