When Tuskegee Institute was approved for the CPT program, G.L. Washington, Director of Mechanical Industries, leased and upgraded a small 55 acre private airfield. Kennedy Field was located 5 miles south of Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, AL. Tuskegee aviation students volunteered their labor to upgrade the field to CPT standards. The grass runways were improved and runway markers were erected. Tuskegee Institute also built a wooden hanger, lavatory, fuel depot and post-flight briefing shack.
Kennedy Field’s most famous event was the visit on March 29, 1941 of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Chief Flight Instructor Charles A. Anderson took Mrs. Roosevelt for a flight of the Tuskegee countryside, and she became an outspoken supporter of Tuskegee’s flying program.
The first military class of cadets began training at Kennedy Field in August 1941, after Moton Field was completed, primary flight training moved there in September 1941.
Civilian Pilot Training Program
With tensions High in Europe, Asia and North Africa, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPT) to provide aviation training for young Americans for a war emergency. Although African-American pilot training was not originally provided, after pressure from the Black Press, Black aviators, civil rights groups and supportive legislators the program was expanded to include six Black colleges:
- Delaware State College, Dover, Delaware
- Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia
- Howard University, Washington, D.C.
- North Carolina A & T College, Greensboro, North Carolina
- Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee, Alabama
- West Virginia State College, Institute, West Virginia
- The Coffey School of Aeronautics at the Harlem Airport, Oak Lawn Illinois
- North Suburban Flying School, Glenview, Illinois