The founding director of the future National Museum of African American History and Culture has been searching for something to expand the story of World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen. Then “The Spirit of Tuskegee” arrived.
Retired Lt. Col. Leo R. Gray, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, stands next to "The Spirit of Tuskegee," a World War II-era plane at end of a cross-country flight to its new home at the Smithsonian, at Andrews Air Force Base. The PT-13 Stearman open-cockpit biplane was used as a trainer plane for the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Decommissioned in 1946, used for decades as a crop duster and damaged in a crash, it was purchased at public auction and restored over the course of three years by Capt. Matthew Quy, a former B-52 bomber pilot who deploys to Afghanistan later this month, and his wife, Tina. It is one of the few surviving planes with ties to Moton Field and Tuskegee Institute, a segregated facility in Tuskegee, Ala., where nearly 1,000 black pilots were trained to fly escort for bombing missions over North Africa and Italy. Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post Buy Photo