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, April 20, 2012

The Squadron At Moton Field, The Place It All Began


     Yesterday afternoon, the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s Mustang fighter landed at Moton Airfield in Tuskegee, Alabama.  Of all of the stops the Mustang and the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit will make on the 2012 schedule, this one will most likely win the “Golden Propeller” award (totally fictional…) for the “cool” factor because Moton Airfield is where every pilot who would become part of the group known as the Tuskegee Airmen first trained to fly. 
     70 years ago last month, the first class of five pilots graduated from Tuskegee.  They had done countless “touch-and-go” landings in biplanes and other trainers during their primary training at Moton and ended their World War II service flying the powerful, agile Mustangs in the skies over Europe.  They had flight instructors at Moton; they had to train themselves to fly Mustangs because in Italy there were no flight instructors.
     A section of Moton Field is incorporated into the National Park Service’s Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The Park Service established the Site in 1998 and opened a temporary Visitors Center in 2002.  Six years and $29 million later, the Site held its grand opening.  Visitors can see a short video and look at exhibits, including some trainers, in the restored Hangar 1.
     Tomorrow and Sunday, visitors can see that AND the Mustang before or after visiting the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit.  Hours are 9-4 tomorrow and 9-1 on Sunday.  Everything is free, including admission to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, so if you’re close by, or know someone who is, we encourage everyone to come see this historic blending of history in Tuskegee, Alabama.
     Here’s a picture of Hangar 1 as restored for the National Historic Site.  

      This picture is by travel blogger Steve Alpert and shows the back of Hangar 1, the front of Hangar 2 (not open to the public at this point) and the top of the original control tower (behind Hangar 2).

  
     Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit was set up at Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, and Terry and Jeanette Hollis hosted numerous groups of student.  Here’s a great shot of some of these kids in front of the Traveling Exhibit.  Each youngster received a free “RISE ABOVE” inspirational dog tag.

       This is another example of how the CAF Red Tail Squadron is continually working toward its goal of bringing the story of the Tuskegee Airmen into every classroom in America.   It’s great to have our Mustang and the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit be part of weekend air shows and other special events.  However, where the “rubber meets the road” is taking the Traveling Exhibit to young people so they can hear about and learn from the enduring example of the Tuskegee Airmen.

     As a 501c3 charitable organization, the CAF Red Tail Squadron is dependent on donations and the kindness of strangers.  The latter came into play big-time this week when Golden Eagle Aviation FBO stepped up and agreed to house the Mustang and put the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit on their property.  Our thanks to them for their generosity and genuine excitement at having us there.
 
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit organization that operates under the auspices of the Commemorative Air Force. For more information, please visit redtail.org.

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