JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An Air Force veteran is organizing and hosting a first-of-its-kind event on Saturday at Cecil Airport.
The event is called Climb and it’s being organized by Capt. Dwayne Quick, an Air Force veteran and founder of 332nd Heritage Foundation, an organization founded in 2020 with the goal of sharing the legacy of the Tuskegee airmen and their contributions to the African American community with the military and civilian population.
“If you see it and you want it, make it happen,” Capt. Quick said. “We want to start STEM programs and scholarship programs and make aviation available to everybody.”
Quick, who mentors five people, hopes to inspire young people of color to pursue careers in aviation. He said minorities make up less than 3 percent of the aviation industry and an even smaller number of those in military flying positions.
Quick said he was inspired by his mentor, Capt. Alvin Temple, one of the Tuskegee airmen, a group of mostly Black pilots who flew in World War II. Now, he said, it’s his goal to pay that mentorship forward and provide opportunities for young people to chase their dreams.
“He instilled a very strong ‘don’t quit’ attitude and that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “The racial hurdles they had to overcome, the obstacles place on them purposefully and just the challenges of being an aviator made them have to have a ‘don’t quit’ attitude. That is something he told me — nobody is going to hand this to me, I had to want it.”
He said he wants to pass along the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen to future generations.
“They became one of the greatest fighter squads to make it happen,” Quick said. “The legacy they left behind and things like that, even moving forward in this, their grit and ability to push forward, that’s something we are trying to pass on and use to mentor. That even a pandemic can’t stop something from happening, and that you need to be able to dream, and that’s our goal with this.”
Quick said the event is supported by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, Air Force and U.S. Army. This year, only 30 children will be allowed to take part in the event in light of public health guidelines, but he hopes to make it an annual event in Jacksonville every February.
“Minorities represent less than 3% of the aviation industry & even less in military flying positions.” ~ Captain Dwayne Quick.— Zachery Lashway (@ZachLashway) February 18, 2021
Quick along w/@JAXairport & other DOD assets is hosting an event to inspire black/brown youth to pursue careers in aviation. #BlackHistoryMonth @wjxt4 pic.twitter.com/sjyRuOreUS