All black flight crew makes history
WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — In honor of Black History Month, an all black flight crew launched a joint-STARS aircraft from Robins Air Force Base Friday.
The flight crew known as Team JSTARS, celebrated the legacy of the first black pilots in the United States military, The Tuskegee Airmen.
Team JSTARS took off on a training mission where the crew is trained on operations of combat.
Captain Andrea Lewis, the first black-female pilot of the Georgia Air National Guard, says she knew from a young age she wanted to fly. Lewis was a flight attendant, went to flight school, and now is the co-pilot for team JSTARS.
“We are out here. We can do this. And along with the rest of my crew. You can do anything you set your mind to,” said Lewis.
On a regular mission, Team JSTARS includes 15 to 20 airmen and soldiers made up of Georgia International Guardman, Air Force, and Army Aviators.
Project Officer and Senior Director of E-8 JSTARS, Dewey McCrae, says to see so much unity is a dream come true.
“To be able to take this crew and put everyone together and know the type of leadership and experience that is going into the crew it means a lot it just happens to be that we all look like each other,” officer Dewey.
Lewis says being black and a woman in a pilot position is unheard of. She says she must carry on the legacy of The Tuskegee Airman, and her late father.
“My dad was a captain for a major airline so I’m actually here today because of him. I guess, I didn’t think about that until now,” cried Lewis.
Konata Crumbly, Director of Joint Staff for the Georgia National Guard, says having an all black team is powerful. Crumbley was the first black Wing Commander of the 116th Air Control Wing. He says he understands the difficulties Lewis faces.
“You have to make sure people know you belong here. And sometimes it’s a delicate game but it’s a game you have to play because no one works this hard to sit in the background,” said Crumbly.
Team JSTARS provide ground and Air Commanders with surveillance to support attack operations and targeting.