WWII Tuskegee Airmen PT-17 Trainer arrives at museum


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Visitors to the National Museum of the United States Air Force should check out the new airplane added to the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit.

The PT-17 Trainer is one of two existing planes that were used as Tuskegee Airmen trainers during WWII. The Museum acquired this plane through an aircraft exchange with the Collings Foundation’s American Heritage Museum in Hudson, Massachusetts.

Transferring it to the National Museum of the USAF was bittersweet, said Rob Collings, the executive director of The Collings Foundation.

“It is a little emotional to leave it behind,” he said. “The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is such a spectacular museum, and this aircraft deserves to be on the national stage. Going through the museum and seeing the crowds that are here, I hope this aircraft will inspire everybody who comes through. It’s in the right location. It needs to be here.”

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black pilots to fly in the U.S. military. In March 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps announced the formation of the first black combat unit, the 99th Pursuit Squadron, later called the Fighter Squadron.

“This aircraft is a valuable piece of our American aviation and military history,” said David Tillotson III, director of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. “Adding this to our collection gives us the ability to tell the broader story of the impact and bravery that that Tuskegee Airmen had during World War II, and the precedent they set for future generations.”

The PT-17 will be placed in the museum’s WWII Gallery in spring 2024.

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