Tuesday, October 25, 2011

P-51C Mustang and Traveling Exhibit Honoring Tuskegee Airmen To Appear At Randolph AFB Air Show

South St., Paul, MN (October 24, 2011)    The free 2011 Randolph Air Force Base Air Show in San Antonio, Texas on October 29-30, 2011 will feature many amazing American aircraft ranging from the modern era back to WWII war birds. As fun and exciting as it will be to see them in action, one American airplane - a rare P-51C Mustang - will stand out from the others for two reasons: it has a bright red tail and it is a key part of an educational initiative to help people - particularly young people - understand and appreciate the history and legacy of the special group of black pilots who flew airplanes with bright red tails during WWII - the Tuskegee Airmen.

It will be joined by the CAF Red Tail Squadron's new RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, a customized 53' trailer with expandable sides that houses a 160-degree curved movie screen and seating for 30 in climate-controlled comfort.  A 14-minute original movie called "RISE ABOVE" focuses on what the Tuskegee Airmen - pilots and their support personnel - had to overcome to be allowed to fly and fight for their country during World War II.  It also features some great flying footage - in the Mustang - that is enhanced by the long curved screen.  Sponsored by the Texas Flying Legends Museum, admission is free.

The CAF Red Tail Squadron, a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that is part of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), completed a $1 million restoration of the Mustang - named Tuskegee Airmen - in 2009 and the airplane has been on the air show circuit ever since. [The Mustang had been restored once before and toured the air show circuit for three years starting in July 2001 before it crashed due to catastrophic engine failure at a Minnesota air show in 2004.]  At each stop, its pilots and crew take every opportunity to tell audiences the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter pilots to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps (now U.S. Air Force) and the thousands of other black men and women who supported them.

Air show attendees are spellbound as they hear how, after training at the segregated base in Tuskegee, Alabama, the black pilots and their crews were deployed first to Africa and then to Italy where they distinguished themselves as American military aviators.  With determination and skill, they proved that black men had the courage and intelligence to fly and fight effectively against the Axis powers, particularly the Germans. The Tuskegee Airmen painted the tails of their fighters red and bomber pilots began requesting the "red tail angels" as escorts to protect their "big heavies" from the German fighters sent to disrupt their missions. The Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 15,000 combat sorties and earned hundreds of medals and designations, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 in honor of their war service to the United States.

The Tuskegee Airmen flew as the 332nd Fighter Group and one of the Pursuit Fighter Squadrons within the FG was the 99th.  The 99th was the first of the Tuskegee Airmen's FS to be activated.  The current 99th is known as the 99th Flying Training Squadron and has been based at Randolph since 1993.

The free CAF Red Tail Squadron's RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and the red-tailed P-51C Mustang, Tuskegee Airmen, will be on display during the core hours of the 2011 Randolph Air Force Base Air Show on October 29-30, 2011 in San Antonio, Texas.

About the CAF:

Collecting, restoring and flying vintage historical aircraft for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. The CAF, based in Midland, Texas, is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition and remembrance. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has more than 8,000 members and a fleet of 156 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 74 units located in 27 states for care and operation. For more information, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org or call (432) 563-1000. For more information about the CAF Red Tail Squadron, visit www.redtail.org.

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