The first aviation class of Tuskegee Airmen, which comprised 13 cadets, began at Chanute Airfield in Rantoul, Illinois, on July 19, 1941. These cadets received ground school training in subjects such as meteorology, navigation, and instruments. Successful cadets then transferred to Tuskegee Army Air Field in October 1941 to complete pilot training. From 1941 to 1945, more than 900 pilots were trained at Tuskegee, receiving their commissions and wings. Tuskegee also graduated a group of twin-engine pilots assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group. These black navigators, bombardiers, and gunners of the 477th were trained at Army Air Corps bases located elsewhere throughout the United States.
Tuskegee Airmen 1941-1945 is organized in a format similar to that of a high school or college yearbook. A significant difference is that unlike in a school "Annual," the authors of this historical book have covered a four-year period recording, highlighting, and commemorating the accomplishments of their fellow Tuskegee alumni. This narrative has a manifold purpose, which has interwoven threads of deeds, actions, thoughts, and ideals into one composite story. It goes inside the lives of many of the surviving Airmen, recounting stories of racism within the military alongside the Airmen's tenacious heroism.
Tuskegee Airmen 1941-1945 is a must-read for any serious student of American military, aviation or civil rights history of the 20th century.