Fly-in will take place with venue change

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 31, 2008


The Tuskegee Airmen won&8217;t land in Selma, but the celebration will move to parks inside the city, instead of Craig Field Airport.

Mayors Johnny Ford of Tuskegee and Mayor James Perkins Jr. of Selma released a joint statement Monday evening, announcing the changes in the fly-in.

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The two men held a teleconference Monday afternoon to discuss the event and agreed that the airmen, motorcyclists and event attendees would meet in Selma. The festivities will take place at Valley Creek

and Bloch parks in Selma.

After the opening event, the participants will leave Selma and go to Tuskegee Moton Field for the airport events.

Plans had originally called for Craig Field Airport to be the site of the celebration. But the airport board of directors voted last week not to allow the planned events for May 22. Those events included a Wings and Wheels event at the former Air Force base. The event was to be free to the public and, organizers said, would draw hundreds of tourists from all over the nation.

Menzo Driskell, executive director of the Craig Field Airport & Industrial Authority, notified Negro Airmen International that the board did not approve the project, and they would need to find an alternate location.

Driskell did not give a reason for the board&8217;s action in the e-mail sent to organizers last Thursday. He has not returned telephone calls or e-mails from The Selma Times-Journal on Monday asking him for a response to the mayors&8217; statement.

However, Frank J. Smith, a member of the Craig Field Industrial Authority Board of Directors sent the Times-Journal a letter to the editor that explained what happened at the board meeting last Thursday.

All five of the board members wanted to know who authorized a flyer to be circulated by the sponsors of the event, Smith said, adding that the answer was &8220;no one.&8221; The board put the matter on the agenda for discussion.

The findings were:

Said Smith in his e-mailed letter, &8220;Members of the board expressed their admiration for the Tuskegee Airmen and are open to work with them within the scope of required guidelines imposed upon us.&8221;

In their statements, both mayors said they regret the confusion.

Ford said he appreciated Perkins&8217; involvement to settle the matter.