Profile - The CAF Red Tail Project

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South St. Paul, MN, United States
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) Red Tail Squadron is to preserve and share the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military pilots. The Airmen served with distinction during WWII (and beyond). They overcame racism on the ground to fight fascism in the air, fighting for a country that turned a blind eye to policies and a large population that discriminated against these men and their families because of the color of their skin. The CAF Red Tail Squadron restored and flies a red-tailed P-51C Mustang such as the Airmen flew during WWII. The airplane appears at air shows in North America and at each stop her crew tells the story of the Airmen and how through persistence and courage they overcame huge obstacles in order to serve in the military. In 2011, the CAF Red Tail Squadron developed a traveling exhibit called "RISE ABOVE" to educate people - especially young people - about the Airmen and how they demonstrated the importance of setting goals and overcoming obstacles in order to succeed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The CAF's Big Weekend Flyin' The 'Birds

     The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is hosting its annual AIRSHO (not a typo - there is no "W" after the "O"!) this weekend in Midland, TX where the CAF is headquartered.
     The non-profit CAF has only been formally in existence since 1961, but it has worked since that time to restore and preserve more than 160 warbirds.  Here's a link to the page on the CAF's website that tells a bit of their history:  http://commemorativeairforce.org/?page=cms/index&cms_page=122 
     The Minnesota Wing of the CAF - which happens to be the CAF's oldest unit -  is going to be showcasing all of the vintage aircraft that the Wing's volunteers have restored:

    The powerful warbirds:
             *  the B-25 Mitchell Bomber, Miss Mitchell
             *  the Red Tail Project's red-tailed P-51C Mustang, Tuskegee Airmen
    The "trainer series":
             *  the Ryan PT-22 Recruit Primary Trainer
             *  the Vultee BT-13A Valiant Basic Trainer  
             *  the Harvard Mk lV Advanced Trainer
     The small, versatile (fabric-covered) utility airplane:
             * the Stinson L5A Sentinel

     The man-hours (and fundraising!) that the restoration and ongoing maintenance of these rare and beautiful airplanes represent is truly amazing.
     Along with many of the other vintage bombers at the AIRSHO, the Miss Mitchell crew will be giving rides to paying customers.  The Minnesota Wing also offers rides in the airplane at Fleming Field in South St. Paul, MN.  Here's a link to information about that: http://www.missmitchell.org/  
     The embedded video on that page is fun to watch. It also contains a great off-the-cuff quote in it that sums up why the staff at the CAF HQ and the volunteers at the Minnesota Wing (and all other Wings) and the Red Tail Project do what they do to keep these airplanes flying: "By doing this, the money that we make - we're a non-profit organization  - allows us to keep operating these aircraft so that veterans can still see them fly;  also so that younger generations can be aware of the aircraft ... that those guys flew during the War." 


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