Fantasy of Flight Sponsors Third Annual Student Essay Contest Honoring Nation’s First African-American Aviators, World War II Tuskegee Airmen, To Celebrate National Black History Month

Students Invited to Meet Airmen in Person at Fantasy of Flight's Legends & Legacies Symposium, "They Dared to Fly" Feb. 7-9, 2013

A few of the original Tuskegee Airmen

A few of the original Tuskegee Airmen

POLK CITY, Fla. (Dec. 27, 2012) – For the third year, Central Florida students are invited to share their thoughts and dreams in an essay contest honoring the inspirational Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African-American military aviators – and to compete for prize money. Students in grades 6-12 are eligible to enter the contest, themed “They Dared to Fly” in reference to the values that landed the Tuskegee Airmen in the history books – leadership, excellence, advocacy and determination. First place winners in each of two categories (grades 6-8 and 9-12) will take home $500; two second place winners each will receive $300.

The contest is sponsored by Fantasy of Flight, home to the World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection™, in conjunction with scheduled appearances by several original Tuskegee Airmen Feb. 7-9, 2013. The event will be held in celebration of Black History Month and marks the first of six symposiums in the attraction’s 2013 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series.

Dedicated to preserving impactful moments in aviation history and inspiring future generations to greatness, Fantasy of Flight is inviting students to help with this mission by sharing their impressions of the revered Tuskegee Airmen of WWII in essay form. Students in accredited schools or home school programs in grades 6-12 are invited to write about how the principles of LEAD (leadership, excellence, advocacy and determination) helped the Tuskegee Airmen achieve success or to describe how the student can use these values to achieve a personal goal of their own.

Required essay length for students in grades 6-8 is 350 words; 500 words for students in grades 9-12. Entries will be judged on overall content, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, legibility and penmanship (as applicable). The deadline for the essay contest is 5 p.m., Feb. 22, 2013. Winners will be announced March 8, 2013. Additional rules apply. For more information, visit www.fantasyofflight.com.

Of the original group of nearly 1,000 trained pilots and 15,000 ground personnel that made up the Tuskegee Airmen, approximately only 40 pilots and 200 ground crew are alive today. On Feb.7-9, visitors to Fantasy of Flight will receive what is becoming an increasingly rare opportunity to visit with several of these famed aviators and hear their stories first-hand as part of “They Dared to Fly,” the first of the 2013 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series. Students and student groups can use the first-hand information they learn while attending the symposium in their essay entry. Special rates are available for student groups. For more information, call 863-984-3500 or visit www.fantasyofflight.com/livinghistory.

“Reading the student essays last year, it was clear how much the participants were influenced by the Tuskegee Airmen, both by the men they met in person at the ‘They Dared to Fly’ symposium, as well as through the research they conducted on their own,” said Kim Long, General Manager. “The Tuskegee Airmen are excellent role models in the values of leadership, excellence, advocacy and determination, and we at Fantasy of Flight believe those values are essential for anyone who wants to pursue his or her dreams, whatever they may be.”

“They Dared to Fly” will be held Thurs., Feb. 7 through Sat., Feb. 9 and will feature several open-forum/question-and-answer sessions as well as meet/greet autograph signings with several of the original Tuskegee Airmen. During this unforgettable, three-day limited engagement event, the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first African-American military aviators, will share their personal stories of their military service and unprecedented success despite operating in segregated units. Fantasy of Flight’s permanent multi-media Tuskegee Airmen exhibit and vintage aircraft collection, including the P-51C Mustang “Red Tail” provides the perfect backdrop for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the brave men who fought America’s enemies abroad while enduring racism at home.

The compelling and historically significant Fifth Annual Legends & Legacies Symposium Series brings to life the experiences of some of America’s most courageous aviators through permanent and semi-permanent exhibits, real aircraft, and most importantly, their own personal stories and interactions with guests. All new programs this year take an in-depth look at World War I and the Cold War as well as saluting veterans of every era.

The six topics scheduled for 2013 include: “They Dared to Fly: Featuring the Tuskegee Airmen” in honor of National Black History Month, Feb. 7-9; “Beyond the Battlefield,” March 8-9; “The First World War,” April 6; “D-Day: Normandy & Beyond,” May 3-4; “Espionage: The Cold War,” Oct. 4-5 and “Veteran’s Day Salute: A Celebration of Service,” Nov. 9-10.

Symposium events are included in the price of Fantasy of Flight general admission and are free for annual pass holders. General admission is $29.95 for adults, $27.95 for seniors ages 55 and over and $15.95 for children, ages 6-12, plus 7 percent sales tax. Children five and under are free with full paying adult. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more; for more information, call 863-984-3500, ext. 220. For general information, visit www.fantasyofflight.com.