Second African-American Thunderbird Honored In Alabama

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Captain Joseph “Pete” Peterson

The USAF Thunderbirds honored one of their own during a dedication ceremony in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Captain Joseph N. “Pete” Peterson graduated from Tuskegee Public School in 1967. It was during his high school years when he developed an interest in flying and started taking lessons. After graduation, he attended Auburn University and participated in the school’s ROTC program. On August 27th, 1971, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. During his flying career, he served in Korea flying the F-4E Phantom.

In 1981, Capt. Peterson joined the Thunderbirds. As only the second African-American pilot to join the team, he broke barriers and continued to change the way things were done. Sadly, he was one of the four pilots killed in the infamous “Diamond Crash” in 1982.

A 10.5 mile portion of State Road 199 in Tuskegee, AL changed names to honor Peterson. The Captain Joseph “Pete” Peterson Memorial Boulevard honors the legacy that Peterson left. The road, near Morton Field Airport, connects two former Tuskegee airfields where black pilots trained in the days when training was segregated.

In a post on their Facebook page, the USAF Thunderbirds said that “as a Thunderbird, Pete exemplified everything we are as Airmen then and today — Bold, Courageous, and always #BreakingBarriers”

The six F-16 fighting falcons performed a flyover during the ceremony.

Thunderbirds Flyover State Route 199

Photos courtesy of the USAF Thunderbirds

Pilot Uninjured In “Tuskegee Airmen” P-51 Landing Incident In Texas

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P-51C Mustang "Tuskegee Airmen" Landing Incident
Photo source: NBC 5/DFW

The pilot of the Commemorative Air Force’s rare P-51C Mustang “Tuskegee Airmen” is uninjured after making an emergency belly landing at Dallas Executive Airport in Texas today. Unfortunately, the aircraft sustained significant damage in the incident, and a photo from the scene shows the propeller and spinner laying on the ground near the rest of the aircraft, completely detached. Although the incident is being described as an emergency landing, it is not clear at this point what sort of emergency led to the landing.

This particular aircraft has undergone extensive restoration in the past, first after its donation to the CAF and again after a crash that killed pilot Don Hinz in 2004. The second restoration was completed in 2009. The aircraft had since become a regular sight on the airshow circuit, performing aerobatics and sitting on display next to a traveling movie theater used to educate visitors about the Tuskegee Airmen, an all-black unit set up in World War II in a failed attempt to prove that black men could not fly. The aircraft was named for the unit and painted in the unit’s colors, including the distinctive red tail.