Airport mural depicts heroes of ‘Red Tails’

History takes the spotlight this week with the new release, “Red Tails,” which focuses on the African-American airmen who trained at the Tuskegee Institute and soared into combat to help the U.S. win air battles during World War II.

Some of those same Tuskegee Airmen featured in the new film are also part of a mural that has been on display at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport since 1990. “Black Americans in Flight” was painted by St. Louis artists Spencer Taylor and Solomon Thurman to highlight the contributions of African American achievements in aviation from 1917 to the space age. The Tuskegee Airmen are prominently featured in the mural, which features 75 portraits, including Eugene Jacque Bullard, Benjamin O. Davis, Jr, Clarence “Lucky” Lester and Wendell Pruitt, a St. Louis pilot who received a Distinguished Flying Cross after downing three planes and sinking a destroyer. Those who supported black aviators are also featured, including Eleanor Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman.

“Black American’s in Flight” has been recently cleaned and restored in its original location in the Terminal 1 Bag Claim. Lambert has also unveiled extensive renovations around the 51-ft mural that enhances its visibility with a new waiting area that is located directly across from a major concourse exit for arriving passengers.

Lambert will hold a formal re-dedication for “Black Americans in Flight” on Feb. 16.

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