Museum to exhibit paintings celebrating Tuskegee Airmen

An exhibition of paintings and drawings depicting America’s first African American military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, will premiere at The Museum of Flight in Seattle on Feb. 28.

“Red Tails, Silver Wings: Paintings of Tuskegee Airmen by Chris Hopkins” is an original exhibit by artist Chris Hopkins done in cooperation with the museum. Hopkins has produced iconic posters for movies including “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and he was nominated for a Grammy for the album cover art for Styx’s “Paradise Theatre.”

“Red Tails, Silver Wings” is the artist’s personal tribute to African American aviators. The exhibit includes 28 paintings (three on loan from the Pentagon) and 15 charcoal drawings.

The exhibit ends May 12 to begin a tour of other museums throughout the country.

Hopkins began his painting career as a commercial illustrator working in the entertainment industry. Among other things, he produced iconic posters for movies including “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” and the posters for Super Bowls XX, XXI and XXIII. He was also received a Grammy nomination for the album cover art for Styx’s “Paradise Theatre.” Hopkins’ 2010 book of paintings, “Eagle Dancing,” portrays historical Northwest Native American culture.

Hopkins began work on his Tuskegee Airmen series as part of his work for the Northwest chapter of the Air Force Art program. Over the years, the series has moved beyond the Air Force Art program to become a personal mission and passion for Hopkins. The Tuskegee Airmen project is a tribute that consists of more than 40 artworks that portray the foreign and domestic exploits of the first African American fighter pilots, their support crews, their families, their predecessors as well as their legacy.

To learn more about Chris Hopkins and his Tuskegee Airmen series, visit his website

The independent, non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world, attracting more than 500,000 visitors annually. The museum’s collection includes more than 160 historically significant air- and spacecraft, the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co., and the world’s only full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer. The museum’s aviation and space library and archives are the largest on the West Coast. The Museum of Flight is accredited by the American Association of Museums, and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

For more information: 206-764-5720 or

Above: Detail of “Butterflies,” a painting by Chris Hopkins in the “Red Tails, Silver Wings” exhibit at The Museum of Flight.


  1. tayarji peterson says

    If we as a nation want to establish a brighter tomorrow we must acknowledge and correct that darker past,which will reveal the truths of our journey . Lt.Colonel Edward
    Drummond a person who served with the Tuskegee Airmen as a Pilot in WWII told me with words loud and clear “Be prepared and “Be twice as good as all others”.
    The Tuskegee Airmen recorded their legacy in our hearts and etched it in the skies forever. May God bless the memory of the these African/American Airmen throughout history.

  2. says

    I’ve thoroughly reviewed Mr. Hopkins work and find no hint of racism in it. Specifically, I am impressed with the humanity he shows in each piece of artwork. To me his work shows the plight of one group of flyers who happen to be Black on and off the battlefield. I cannot see where the depiction of one set of warriors demeans another. If an artistic depiction of warrior was demeaning or racist then any movie with Confederate soldiers would be inherently racist.

    In many ways the Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for Jackie Robinson, who paved the way for Rosa Parks, who ultimately paved the way for Thurgood Marshall who set the stage for Colin Powell who knock the doors down for President Barrack Obama. History has more peaks and valleys than it does steady paces of societal progress. The Tuskegee Airmen represent just that a peak in the valley of Jim Crow.

    Were they perfect, NO! Were they patriotic, Hell Yeah! Or finally were they adept at completing their mission and coming home Yep and I’ll bet on a red-tail every time.

  3. Sally Cohen says

    The point is that they did not become simple Americans when the war came! They had to struggle constantly during the war even to be ALLOWED to serve their country! You do sound racist.

      • Flynn Spears says

        But the German Americans, Japanese Americans and Native Americans could sit in movie theaters and drink from public water fountains and be served in restaurants during the both WWI and WWII. The Japanese Americans were interned in camps here in the USA during WWII yet they also fought for the United States as was their right as citizens. Native Americans also fought and were honored for what they did as “Wind Talkers” during WWII. Not to mention Ira Hayes who was one of the six Marines holding the flag on Iwo Jima. Their stories have been told over and over so do you see them as being singled out?

        There were other groups like the (Golden Thirteen, Red Ball Express, 761st Tank Battalion, and The Tripple Nickles) who trained and fought with distinction during WWII with little fan fare but served and died for the country you now live in and enjoy its freedoms.

        The Tuskegee Airmen story is much more than what you see in movies and these paintings. Their story is about rising above the oppression which is something you obviously know nothing about. Their story is about doing what it takes to succeed and making something of yourself and not settling for what others think you should do. They were provided an opportunity to show what they could do and did it with pride, distinction, and huge sacrifice.

        What have you done?

        Chris Hopkins paintings of this period in our countries history depict a group of people who rose to the call of their country. These movies, stories and paintings also serve to educate our children since they are not in the history books but you know that already or do you?

        • John Wesley says

          There were other groups like the (Golden Thirteen, Red Ball Express, 761st Tank Battalion, and The Tripple Nickles) who trained and fought with distinction during WWII with little fan fare but served and died for the country you now live in and enjoy its freedoms.

          My point entirely, nothing can or should be taken away from the Tuskegee Airman, however there are others just as deserving that get little or no attention,

          • says

            Well John, Perhaps YOU can paint a tribute to those other heroes. And they are indeed heroes. As for me I made a choice and followed through with it. Talking and sniping is the easy part. The research and execution of the work takes commitment.

          • Flynn Spears says

            Maybe your comments were misinterpreted as being racists I don’t know if that is your position. But this was one group’s story that has received much praise over others that were suppressed during WWII. And there was much more of their story that was kept off the record books due to times in our country. So, these tributes only go to show accomplishments and actions long forgotten or not allowed to come forth. Look at it this way, if not then the other stories would not event be brought forth, researched, or written about. They never requested praise for what they did so no need to down the praise from a country or people who have come to appreciate what they did do.

            This is not racism at its worst as it is very easy to hope on the racism bandwagon when all it takes is to slow down and look through a different lens.

  4. Ray Klein says

    Couldn’t have said it better John. “racism” has become a tool to drive agendas. And I for one am sick of it. And members of all races that have been oppressed (even by their own people) should be outraged as well.

  5. John Wesley says

    At the risk of this sounding racist, I have to make my feelings heard. We are paying too much attention and giving too much credit to one very small group who served in WWII. Granted, Blacks were the brunt of blatant racism for way too long, but so were the Native, Polish, Irish, Hungarian Americans and other groups as well, but when the war came they all became simple Americans, overcame their roots and served this country with honor and pride. To honor one small group the way that the Tuskegee group have been singled out, is actually Racism at its worst.

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