Eight Cloverdale Middle School students were chosen as the inaugural class of civilian cadets for Dr. Milton P. Crenchaw’s Training Academy and featured in the High Profile section of Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. (Photos provided by Helaine Williams/Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
The students were sworn in by Col. J. Dryjanski, USAF 314th Wing Commander; Col. K. Green, 314th Vice-Wing Commander; and Federal Judge Berlin Jones. Dr. Crenchaw personally spoke to the students during the evening. Cloverdale was also presented with the Milton P. Crenchaw Foundation Aviation Training Academy’s “Community Partnership Award.”
Milton Pitts Crenchaw, of the original Tuskegee Airmen, was one of the first African Americans in the country and the first from Arkansas to be trained by the federal government as a civilian licensed pilot. He trained hundreds of cadet pilots while at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute in the 1940s and was the catalyst in starting the first successful flight program at Philander Smith College in Little Rock from 1947 to 1953. His combined service record extends for over forty years of federal service from 1941 to 1983 with the U.S. Army (in the Army Air Corps) and eventually the U.S. Air Force.
Crenchaw was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1998. On March 27, 2007, then Governor Mike Beebe honored him for his historic efforts as a Tuskegee flight instructor and service to his country. On March 29, 2007, Crenchaw, along with the other members of the Tuskegee Airmen, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by then President George W. Bush in Washington DC. The Tuskegee Airmen are the largest group to ever receive this medal.
Crenchaw was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame on October 27, 2007.