The Tuskegee Airmen and Angola, Indiana

By Eric Olson

September 20, 2012 Updated Sep 20, 2012 at 2:30 PM EDT

ANGOLA, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Of all the legends that grew out of World War Two one of the most compelling surrounds the Tuskegee Airmen, a squadron of black fighter pilots who battled their own government for the right to fight, then took their fight to the skies over Nazi Germany. And to a man every one of these African American heroes was trained to fly and fight by this man, an aviation pioneer born and raised in Angola Indiana.

Born in 1912 Lewis Jackson graduated from Angola High School, learned to fly at Tri-State Airport and following high school, bought an old biplane and barnstormed the Midwest, putting himself through college with the money he earned. When war broke out he volunteered for the Tuskegee Airmen where he was promptly appointed Director of Training by President Roosevelt. It wasn’t until after the war, however, that Lewis Jackson was able to pursue his true lifelong dream.

“He believed that every home should have an airplane in its garage,” says Steuben County Historian Peg Dilbone, “one that you could back out drive to the airport, take off, come back, land and come back in and park it back in the garage.”

Jackson earned his PhD after leaving the army, became a teacher and college president, all the while designing and building experimental airplanes like the sporty J-10 and the revolutionary Versatile I, a plane with folding wings that turned into a car. Until his death in 1994 Dr. Jackson worked on perfecting his design for a flying car, work that paid off with the just unveiled Terrafugia, a true flying automobile, an airborne wonder that can trace its lineage to the doorstep of a war hero, teacher and visionary who traces his own roots to a humble hometown out in Your Country. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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