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Tuskegee's Lone Ace, Lee Archer, Passes Away

Cowell and Archer
Steve Cowell, left, and Col. Lee Archer, with Cowell’s T-6 airplane that he confirmed Archer had trained in as a member of the Tuskegee Airmen. (Photo courtesy of Steve Cowell)

February 4, 2010 EAA was saddened to learn of the passing of retired Air Force Lt. Colonel Lee A. Archer, the only confirmed Ace (five aerial victories) of the Tuskegee Airmen, at the age of 90 on January 27 in New York City. As a member of America’s first black fighter group in World War II, Col. Archer flew 169 combat missions flying cover and escorting long-range bombers over more than 11 countries, as well as strafing missions against enemy landing zones and troops on the ground.

Later in life, Archer broke racial barriers in the business world, becoming a corporate vice president at General Foods Corp. and later founding the venture capital firm Archer Asset Management.

He had appeared at EAA AirVenture with fellow Tuskegee Airmen, and was reunited with one of the actual airplanes he trained in – a North American T-6 Texan restored to original condition by Steve Cowell of Denver, Colorado. “I am very proud of that fact – that he flew in that airplane” Cowell said this week. “I’m honored to have known Col. Archer and to have been involved in something directly connected to his history.”

Another airplane, Kermit Weeks’ P-51C, which was the Grand Champion Warbird Award at AirVenture 2000, appears with the paint scheme of Archer’s Macon Belle Mustang.

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