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Dec. 10, 2001

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000

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Release: 01-103AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: You are invited to cover 'Aero Expo' events, including speeches by a World War II 'Tuskegee Airman,' retired Air Force Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, on Tuesday, Dec. 11 and Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. PST, both days in the Main Auditorium at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. To reach Ames, take the Moffett Field exit from Highway 101, drive east to the main gate and report to the visitor badging office for maps and directions to Aero Expo events. U.S. media representatives should arrive early enough to receive an entry 'badge,' and must have a valid picture ID in order to enter Ames.


As part of two days of 'Aero Expo' events celebrating a century of flight, a World War II 'Tuskegee Airman,' retired Air Force Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, will address 1,200 students Dec. 11 -12 at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. PST, both days in the Main Auditorium at NASA's Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley.

He is one of 32 African American pilots shot down and locked in a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp. He will discuss how that war changed the social, economic and psychological aspirations, hopes and accomplishments of Black Americans.

"In the Air Force, I became one of 450 airmen, African American pilots, who trained in Tuskegee, Ala., and fought over North Africa, Sicily and Europe," he said.

One speech to students will be 'webcast' world-wide via the Internet at 10 a.m. PST on Dec. 12. Webcasts enable students to watch live video, listen to audio and interact in real-time on the Internet with experts. Links leading to the webcast will be on the Internet at:

"It was a warm, sunny day on the twelfth of August, 1944, when I, Lieutenant Jefferson, a member of the 332nd Fighter Group, climbed aboard my red-tailed P–51 Mustang and soared into the wild blue yonder to attack German radar stations along the coast of France," he said. "On one of my strafing passes, at fifty feet above the ground, I flew right into a hail of 20mm shells. There was a loud explosion, and immediately the cockpit filled with hot oil and smoke." Jefferson was able to fly to a higher altitude and parachute to the ground where he was captured.

More information about Jefferson is on the Internet at

Tuskegee Airmen websites are at: and

As part of 'Aero Expo' events, students also will tour some Ames facilities including: the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility, the Vertical Motion Simulator, wind tunnels, the Air Space Operations Lab, the General Aviation Simulator and Hangar 1.

In addition, in the flight support facility hangar, students will see exhibits including NASA's Starship 2040, a traveling space transportation exhibit managed by the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. Housed in a 48-foot (14.6 meter) trailer, the exhibit is designed to share NASA's vision of what commercial space flight might be like 40 years from now.

"The main objective of Aero Expo is to develop the excitement and enthusiasm of youth to follow a technical career path, and in particular to excite them in the pursuit of aviation," said Robert Jacobsen, Ames' Director of the Air Space Systems Program that is sponsoring the educational event. Other aims are to provide teachers with aeronautics-related classroom activities and lesson plans to help provoke thought among students and educators about the Centennial of Flight in 2003.

"We want students to get excited and interested in mathematics and science," according to Laura Shawnee of NASA Ames' Education Branch.

The event attracted enough attention that it had to be increased from one day to two days, according to Antoinette Battiste, an Aero Expo organizer. The following San Francisco Bay area cities and school districts are sending students to Aero Expo: San Francisco Unified, Palo Alto Unified, Cupertino Union, Fremont Unified, La Honda/Pescadero Unified, Oakland Unified, Hayward Unified, Santa Clara Unified, Evergreen (San Jose), Greenfield Union (Monterey County), Live Oak (Santa Cruz), Berryessa (San Jose), Mt. Diablo Unified, Oak Grove (San Jose), Ravenswood (East Palo Alto), Hollister, Jefferson School District (Daly City) and Sunnyvale School District.

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