Tuskegee Airmen pilot takes flight to celebrate 100th birthday

Ret. Col. Charles McGee flew a private jet to celebrate his 100th birthday. (WBAL photo)
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FREDERICK, Md. (WTHR) - The oldest of the nine remaining Tuskegee Airmen is celebrating a milestone birthday.

Retired Col. Charles McGee turns 100 on Saturday and decided to start the celebration Friday with a return to the sky. While the $3 million private jet was a far cry from the P-51 fighter McGee flew during World War II, his co-pilot said he flew nearly the entire flight and handled the takeoff and perfect landing.

"Aviation is an important technology and something we hope all youngsters get an interest in," McGee said.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps. McGee was drafted when he was a sophomore at the University of Illinois and served in the Air Force for 30 years, flying combat missions in Korea and Vietnam in addition to his service in World War II.

And his centennial party isn't over yet!

McGee has received a Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush and in July, the Senate passed a bill giving him an honorary promotion to brigadier general. That bill currently awaits House approval.

He plans to take another plane ride Saturday on his actual birthday.