By Ava-joye Burnett

FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — A member of the Tuskegee Airmen celebrated his 100th birthday by taking a flight.

Retired Army Air Force Col. Charles McGee flew a private jet Friday between Frederick, Maryland, and Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

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“I can’t think of a better present for this 100th birthday than to be able to share in the air again,” McGee said. “It’s been a marvelous unforgettable experience.”

The Tuskegee Airmen is the nickname of the first African American unit to fly combat airplanes in World War II. The Air Force recently honored the famed group of airmen with the naming of its new trainer jet.

“They were fighting two wars. They were fighting fascism overseas and racism at home. Every black aviator today owes a debt of gratitude to these guys,” Captain John W. McCaskill, of Allied Airmen’s Preservation Society, said.

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McGee is one of the Air Force’s most celebrated pilots. He flew more than 6,000 flights but has still mastered the art of humility.

“Oh my goodness, I am still up there flying, and making the approach and landing,” McGee said. “With an instructor with his eye on things, he said I did it, but I am not so sure.”

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association partnered with Private Air Media Group who arranged and provided the flight.

“He did the takeoff, he did the cross country, he did the approach, he did the landing, twice. This guy is good,” Marker Baker, CEO of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, said.

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McGee, who turned 100 on Saturday, attributes positive thinking to his longevity.

Ava-joye Burnett