'Tuskegee Airmen' P-51 Returns to Flight

Red Tail Mustang is expected to be ready for the 2017 show season.

Tuskegee Airmen P 51 Mustang
The P-51 Mustang Tuskegee Airmen has returned to flight.Photo courtesy of Jeff Berlin

The North American P-51 named Tuskegee Airmen returned to the skies on December 1 after a gear-up incident earlier this year that caused major damage to the airframe. Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron cofounder Doug Rozendaal took the controls for the first flight. "There were no issues with the test flight, and the aircraft flew great," Rozendaal said. "We look forward to filling up our 2017 schedule with airshows and events that will give us the opportunity to fulfill our important mission."

Tuskegee Airmen is used by the Red Tail Squadron to inspire young people to achieve their dreams through its Rise Above exhibit, which highlights the struggles and successes of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American military pilots and ground crew. Following this first successful flight, the P-51 Mustang is expected to be ready to return to the 2017 show circuit.

Bemidji, Minnesota-based AirCorps Aviation spent more than 3,000 hours meticulously restoring the historic airplane. In addition to restoring the landing gear, gear doors and associated systems, there was major work done to one of the wings, the firewall-forward section and cockpit area.

“Our team was proud to help bring this very special aircraft back to flying status so it can once again inspire young people to rise above their own obstacles, just like the Tuskegee Airmen,” said Erik Hokuf, managing partner of AirCorps Aviation.

Watch Tuskegee Airmen return to flight in the clip below.