By Guest Contributors Thomas Duff and Trent Duff
(Southwest Airlines photo)
(The Aero Experience photo)
The Sixth Annual Continuing the Legacy in Aviation event, sponsored by Southwest Airlines, Frontiers of Flight Museum and the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., was held August 13-14 in Dallas, Texas.  A select number of participants aged 11-18 were chosen for the opportunity through an essay contest held in May.  One of the attendees, Thomas Duff representing the Boy Scouts of America, was accompanied by his father, Trent Duff, Board Member of  the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum.  The Aero Experience asked Thomas and Trent Duff to tell us about their aero experience in Dallas.
Trent Duff:
(Thomas Duff photo)
On August 13-14, 2013 we were guests of Southwest Airlines to meet with and learn about the airline and the Tuskegee airmen.  This was a very special opportunity for my son, who is a homeschooler in high school, and myself, interested in anything aviation and aviation history.  On the way to the event, I happened to have a book about the Tuskegee Airmen that included a brief summary of African American aviation history: Black Eagles: African Americans in Aviation by Jim Haskins.  My own experiences in the USAF in 1970-74 made me aware of a few of the hardships of blacks integrating in a mostly white world.  Clearly, much of the details in my own experience, not being black, were missing.  This experience of listening to black attendees speak was of some help!
My meeting with Chauncey Spencer II, Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. Youth Coordinator of this event, was especially enlightening and this fine gentleman was quick to answer my questions.  Mr. Spencer’s father was a Tuskegee Airman.  He was also interested in my involvement with the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum. 

Thomas Duff: 
(Southwest Airlines photo)

Southwest Airlines exposed me to new opportunities through the “Continuing the Legacy Essay Contest”.  After arriving in Dallas, I went up in the Dallas Love Field Control Tower with the other students.  I learned that the tower runs ground control (which directs the planes to their gates or to the runway), runway control ( which  clears planes for takeoff and landing), and IFR clearance control ( which goes over the flight plan with the pilots).

(Southwest Airlines photo)
After the control tower, our group went to the Frontiers of Flight Museum, where Chauncey Spencer II gave a presentation on the Tuskegee Airmen.  Mr. Spencer taught us that nothing is impossible.   
The next day we went to the Maintenance Facility.  I learned that Southwest plane number two eighty-eight has a Tuskegee Airman emblem on the nose and a matching emblem on the outside of the plane.  I also learned that they inspect their planes there rather than taking them to Seattle.

(Southwest Airlines photo)
Later that day, our Continuing the Legacy Group went to the operations command center and there we observed the dispatcher job.  The dispatcher holds and dispatches flights out of airports.

If it wasn't for the Tuskegee Airmen, Southwest Airlines and Continuing the Legacy, students might not be exposed to these kinds of opportunities.

Trent Duff:
Since talking with Mr. Spencer, I read an interesting article in the August 2013 edition of Air Force Magazine about Gen. “Spike” Momyer (pronounced MOH-myer) which corroborates Mr. Spencer and the book mentioned above where the performance of the Tuskegee Airmen were wrongfully called into question.  "Spike" was running the air war when I was in Thailand in 1972-73 with the 13th Air Force.  Problems in those days regarding racial equality persisted as our life on base appeared to be a microcosm of life in the U.S.  Momyer had disagreements with other top non-black leaders in those days, indicating that professional or other disagreements may have spanned race.  The article was written by the well known historian with roots in East St. Louis, Walter J. Boyne.
Special thanks to Chauncey Spencer II, Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Youth Coordinator, and Karen Price-Ward, Southwest Airlines Company Community Affairs & Grassroots Manager for making this aero experience possible.