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, November 9, 2012

The 2012 Event Recap

     What does the CAF Red Tail Squadron have in common with the 2012 presidential contest?  Both have come to the end of their campaigns!  Whew, huh?
     I can only imagine how the political winners and losers feel, but I know that we at the Squadron are very pleased with the numbers we posted for 2012:

     19:  Number of states the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit visited at least once (we went to six different cities in Florida and went more than once to seven other states!)           
     38:  Air shows and events attended
     12,300+: Number of students we welcomed to the Traveling Exhibit during our outreach efforts:
     30,000+: Number of people who registered to see the “Rise Above” movie in the Traveling Exhibit:

     When we speak in terms of our “numbers,” it would be easy to just look at the good totals and go from there.  However, we who have been fortunate to work at the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and watch people be wowed by the red-tailed P-51C Mustang know it’s really the individual reaction to our educational mission that counts.
     Sure, we have school kids come through that have to maintain their “cool” and not really get into what the “Rise Above” movie has to say.  (I often wonder what a teacher can say or do to engage them in anything?)  And at air shows, sometimes (but not often), people will look at the magnificent Mustang, sitting there on the tarmac with its bright red tail, and just keep walking.  
     Maybe it’s because I personally cannot pass a warbird in a museum or at an air show without pausing to just drink it in, but it’s beyond me how anyone can look at a six-decades old airplane – THAT CAN STILL FLY – and not want to at least pause and give it a mental salute.
     Anyway, we welcomed folks of all ages to the Traveling Exhibit and the Mustang and enjoyed seeing each and every one of them.  Here is a short photo essay highlighting some of the places we saw and people we met.  Unless noted, photos are courtesy of Squadron regulars – the drive team of Terry and Jeanette Hollis and logistics coordinator, Marvona Welsh.  They all worked so hard to make this year such a success so deserve a little shout-out.
    We had new flags to help folks find the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit
 We got media attention,

 movie stars visited,
The Squadron's Terry Hollis with Elijah Kelley, star of "Red Tails"
And even the Superheroes showed up.
When we were extra lucky, Tuskegee Airmen stopped by
Mustang pilots Brad Lang, Tuskegee Airman Leo Gray, Doug Rozendaal in Florida
Harold Brown signed autographs and talked with people all four days of the Port Clinton (OH) event.
 We went to a lot of schools during the days prior to many air shows 
(and a lot of schools bused kids to see us)...
This is the cafeteria area of the new Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. High School in Houston.  The school is, of course, named for the famed leader of the Tuskegee Airmen. Note a model of his P-51 "By Request" hanging from the ceiling.  Also note "Expect To Win" on the wall behind it. Including that one, we counted five of the six Principles we use in our educational program on the cafeteria walls: Aim High, Believe  In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Never Quit!
The kids were sometimes formal,
Eisenhower High ROTC (Texas)
but were more often informal.
Bowling Green (KY) group
At air shows, we really liked it when the Mustang and 
the Traveling Exhibit were set up close together.

We also liked that kids were intrigued.

Our pilots spent literally hours by and on the Mustang, answering questions
and helping people get into and out of the cockpit for a quick "sit down."
Squadron pilot Alan Miller chats with one of dozens of visitors who wanted to get up close and personal to our beautiful Mustang

 The tent was busy with people registering to see the 
"Rise Above" movie and buying things.

All day long, at each and every stop, people waited 
patiently in line for the next show to start.  

On the ground, photographers set up shots like this:
 And a lucky few, like photographer Adam Glowaski, got shots like this:
Three red tails: From top: the P-51C "Tuskegee Airmen", a Beech and a T-6
     We are already lining up our event schedule for 2013.  If you would like the Traveling Exhibit and/or Mustang to come to your town, call Marvona Welsh at 812-240-2560 to discuss. 

     If you came to see us at an event this year, thank you so much.  We hope to see you again next year!

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

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