The Red Tail Project, a not-for-profit organization created to restore a P-51C Mustang and keep the history of the Tuskegee Airmen alive, recently received an unexpected financial boost from the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA).
It happened during the fourth annual migration of Cirrus pilots to the Cirrus Design Corp. headquarters in Duluth, Minn. Addressing the crowd at the COPA banquet June 4, Cirrus co-founder Dale Klapmeier spoke about how he was personally inspired by the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen.
One of the attendees, Bendrix Bailey, came forward and issued a challenge. He would commit $50,000 if the COPA members present would match his gift that evening. The association raised more than $105,000 during a benefit to support the Red Tail Project.
“The story of the Red Tail is both inspiration and proof that impossible dreams may be achieved,” Bailey said. “This airplane will carry that story to young men and women of all backgrounds all across America.”
The Red Tail Project is seeking “significant corporate and individual sponsorships to accelerate the restoration process, as well as begin oral history recordings of the surviving airmen, according to Tim Barzen, a spokesman for the project. “There are only about 200 remaining airmen, and they are in their 80s, so time is of the essence,” he added.
If the Red Tail Project can raise the remaining $700,000 required to finish the P-51C in the next 30 days, the organization is committed to flying the airplane to the next COPA Migration in Duluth and throughout the 2007 air show season.