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“They couldn’t believe that any black person could fly a plane.” (Video interview, part 2, 7:31)

   Stewart B. Fulbright
Collection image
Stewart Fulbright at time of interview, Durham, NC [n.d.]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 477th Bomb Group (Tuskegee Airman)
Service Location: United States
Rank: Captain
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As a kid, Stewart Fulbright had constructed model airplanes and devoured magazines about flying, so it was no surprise that, upon graduating from college, he rushed to join the training program held for African American pilots at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. His time with the 477th Bombardment Group contained plenty of thrills--such as his first solo flight--but life in the segregated Army required him to confront prejudice at every turn. Overcoming roadblocks such as segregated mess halls and racist white instructors instilled in him a sense of resiliency: if he could survive these experiences, he could succeed at anything he attempted.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (55 min.)
More like this
»Executive Order 9981
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Minimum weight requirement for Tuskegee cadets; eating bananas to make weight; suffering through the day of testing; weighing in at exactly 125 pounds. (01:53) Black civilian instructors, who were very supportive; white Army instructors after second phase of training; racist officer; many wanted Tuskegee program to fail; one particularly memorable white instructor. (03:09) Making his first solo flight. (02:42)
Making an emergency landing at a small airfield; kitchen crew came out to watch; stunned to see a black pilot. (03:26) Issues with officer’s mess hall at Mather Field in CA; officer ordered segregated seating; African American officers protested by eating in PX, which was closed on Christmas Day, so they did not eat on Christmas. (03:21) Tuskegee set them up to expect success, because they had overcome so much; most of his classmates succeeded in life after war. (02:11)

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  October 26, 2011
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