Bright Red Tails To Take Part In The Sound Of Speed Airshow <


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Bright Red Tails To Take Part In The Sound Of Speed Airshow

By Steve Hall

April 29, 2010 - The Sound of Speed Airshow at Rosecrans Memorial Airport on May 1st and 2nd will feature many amazing aircraft. As fun and exciting as it will be to see them in action, one airplane, a 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 pilots who flew airplanes with bright red tails during WWII - the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Red Tail Project, an all-volunteer non-profit organization that is part of the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, completed a $1 million restoration of the Mustang - named Tuskegee Airmen - in 2009. The Mustang had been restored once before and toured the air show circuit for three years starting in July 2001. At each stop, its pilots and crew took 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).

Air show attendees are spellbound as they hear how after training at the segregated air based in Tuskegee, Alabama, the Tuskegee Airmen were sent first to Africa and then to Italy where they distinguished themselves as American pilots, proving that black men had the courage and intelligence to fly and fight effectively against the Axis powers, particularly the Germans.



The Airmen and their crews painted the tails of their fighters red and, as these pilots proved their skill and courage in the skies over Italy and Germany, bomber pilots began requesting the “red tail angels.” The Tuskegee Airmen flew hundreds of missions 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 CAF Red Tail Project’s Mustang crashed due to catastrophic mechanical failure at the Red Wing (MN) Air Show in May 2004, killing the Project’s leader, Don Hinz, and destroying the airplane. The members of the CAF Red Tail Project never doubted that the plane would one day fly again so it was trucked up to Tri-State Aviation in Wahpeton, ND, and fundraising began. A group of stalwart volunteers worked closely with the staff of Tri-State to rebuild the Mustang so it could continue to serve as a tool to create interest in the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.


Now that the restoration is complete and the Mustang is back on the air show circuit, the CAF Red Tail Project will focus on the development of an educational traveling exhibit that will accompany the airplane across the country.

The red-tailed P-51C Mustang, Tuskegee Airmen, will be on view and will also fly (weather permitting) during the core hours (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.) of the Sound of Speed Airshow on May 1 and 2, 2010.
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