The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron introduced its Rise Above traveling exhibit at last week’s EAA AirVenture. For the next several months, the exhibit is set to travel around the country, visiting airshows, schools and youth organizations with the goal of inspiring children to reach for their goals – no matter how unobtainable they may seem – just as the Tuskegee Airmen did in the 1940s.
Inside the 53-foot Rise Above trailer, a 30-seat, air-conditioned movie theater contains a 24-inch by 40-inch arched screen which features the Rise Above documentary movie about how the Tuskegee Airmen overcame the restriction for black pilots to fly in the United States Army Air Corps and went on to achieve a stellar record as military aviators. The documentary also follows the restoration of and takes the viewers for a flight in a P-51C Mustang. The same P-51C, which features the Tuskegee Airmen’s distinguishable red-tail paint scheme, is also part of the traveling exhibit.
The Tuskegee Airmen’s commitment to become the best pilots they could be is the foundation for six guiding principles for the project’s educational mission: aim high, believe in yourself, use your brain, never quit, be ready to go and expect to win.
These principles also apply to the project itself after its founder Don Hinz tragically crashed and died in the restored Red Tail P-51 in the mid-2000s. Restoring the P-51 for the second time was a major obstacle in itself for the Red Tail Squadron. But the Squadron’s ability to continue with the project despite the tragic event adds to its inspirational message.