Four years ago, Bryton Entertainment -based in Augusta- produced a documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen (In Their Own Words: The Tuskegee Airmen). It caught the attention of Bill Cosby, George Lucas-- even Walmart!
But before there were any Tuskegee Airmen, there was C. Alfred Anderson-- the chief trainer of the famed airmen. His life and legacy will be immortalized in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
WJBF's Jennie Montgomery has the story.
Christina Anderson remembers flying with her grandfather when she was just 5 years old.
But long before that flight, Chief Anderson made history when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited Tuskegee, AL in 1941... and asked him for a ride. Their 40-minute flight together led to the training of the first African American military pilots.
Though Chief fully understood his place in history, Christina says he didn't talk much about it. That's one reason she began the quest to learn more about him.
"He really did not talk a lot about his life training the airmen and that's what brought me to this journey, really finding out so much about what he did. He was just Grandpa to me."
Last year, Christina founded the C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson Legacy Foundation, with a mission to expose young people to careers in aviation.
She enlisted the help of Augusta film makers, Bryan Williams and Denton Adkinson. They're producing a new documentary called "The Chief: A Granddaughter's Journey Through His-story."
"We found, going through some of the research, we found letters some of the Tuskegee Airmen had written to him when they first got overseas. And just coming off doing the Tuskegee Airmen documentary, you look at them like they're just larger than life and super heroes - but they were kids when he met them, kids when he trained them. And the fact that they had such love and such respect for him, and they were writing him about, oh my goodness, 'we had our first dog fight in Italy today'- and 'we were so nervous' - 'thank you for your training!'
And this Friday Christina will see her grandfather enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
"In this country, this is the highest award an aviator can get. And so, we are completely over the moon about it and looking forward to meeting Col. Guion Bluford."
Col. Bluford was the first African American NASA astronaut in space. He will be presenting the award to Christina, no doubt honored to shake hands with the granddaughter of the man known as the "Father of Black Aviation."
"It just gives me such a warm feeling every time I meet Tuskegee Airmen that just want to hold my hand and say, 'Oh, I loved your grandfather!' I've really loved talking to people and doing the interviews."
The Enshrinement Ceremony will take place Friday in Dayton, Ohio. To learn more about the C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson Legacy Foundation, click here.
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