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2023 Crossroads Air Show showcases African American aviation history

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Over 500 students from more than seven schools in Indiana were in attendance at the 2023 Crossroads Air Show, which took place Oct. 27-29 at the Indianapolis Regional Airport. Students experienced African American aviation history with unique flight performances and compelling storytelling, including the tale of Indiana native pilot Charles H. DeBow, Jr. – a member one of the first cohorts of the Tuskegee Airmen.

One of the main attractions of the air show was the performance by the Blue Angels – a team of elite pilots who fly F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets in precision aerobatic formations. Their performance inspired many of the students in attendance, including Marquis Jackson, an eighth grader at KIPP Indy College Preparatory School.

“The airplane tricks the pilots are doing are pretty cool,” Jackson said. “I am going to ask my dad if I can come back again tomorrow.”

In addition to the Blue Angels, the show also featured a variety of other performers, including the Commemorative Air Force’s Tuskegee Airmen, Aerobatics performer Rob Holland and the U.S. Special Operations Command’s Para-Commandos. The students could view static aircrafts up close, such as a P-51 Mustang, F-100 Super Sabre and T6G Texan.

2023 Crossroads Air Show
Close side view of a P5-1D Mustang (WWII American fighter plane) (Photo/Getty Images)

Students also had the opportunity to learn about the history of aviation, the different types of aircrafts and career paths available in the aviation industry. They had the chance to meet with pilots, mechanics and other aviation professionals.

Darrell Morton Jr., senior manager of educational programs & diversity partnerships at Republic Airways, shared why representation and exposure at the 2023 Crossroad Air Show is vital.

“If we don’t know, we can’t even ask the right questions,” Morton said. “Aviation amongst pilots are 90% white males, so that tells me there is absolutely opportunity for us [minorities] to grow in this industry. The money in this industry is great; we just don’t know about it. We have always been here; we must show these kids we were here. They just don’t know.”

The 2023 Crossroads Air Show appears to have successfully achieved its purpose amongst students.

2023 Crossroads Air Show
a sea of nearly 1,000 patrons at the Indianapolis Regional Airport near Greenfield during the 2023 Crossroads Air Show. (Photo provided/Crossroads Air Show)

“I am seeing things with airplanes and jets that I have never seen before,” Jackson said, which is what the 2023 Crossroad Air Show was all about.


Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also visit the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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