FREDERICK, MD (WBAL/NBC) - The oldest of nine known remaining Tuskegee Airmen turns 100 on Saturday.
Retired Col. Charles McGee decided to start the celebration a day early, though, with a return to the sky by taking a plane ride out of Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
The Bethesda, Maryland, native 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 World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
The party isn’t over, yet.
McGee plans to take another plane ride Saturday, his actual birthday, Dec. 7.
President George W. Bush awarded the Tuskegee Airmen collectively with a Congressional Gold Medal in 2006.
In July, the U.S. Senate passed a bill giving McGee an honorary promotion to brigadier general. It now sits before the U.S. House for approval and for the president’s signature.