“Red Tail Reborn” is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and of the Red Tail Project, which is restoring a rare P-51C flown by the Airmen.
A documentary film by Emmy-winner Adam White, it will have its PBS television premier on Feb. 11. It is narrated by television actor Michael Dorn.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military pilots. They trained and flew during World War II, establishing a shining combat record. White’s documentary chronicles the group’s history, including its segregation from white squadrons. The commonly-accepted belief at that time was that “black men are cowards” and “lack the mental capacity and courage to command,” the film tells us. Taking on the challenges of racism and the deep skepticism of the era’s military command, the Tuskegee Airmen garnished one of the most impressive combat records in American history. Despite that enviable record, relatively few people know about the Airmen, and so the film goes beyond World War II to tell of the Red Tail Project, a dedicated group determined to educate America about that nearly-forgotten part of its history. It also tells how Don Hinz, USNR (Retired), died while telling the Tuskegee story.
On May 29, 2004, Hinz was flying his P-51C, which was painted in Tuskegee Airmen colors, at an air show where he was calling attention to the Airmen’s history. The engine malfunctioned at low altitude. Hinz guided the fighter away from people and property, then dead-sticked the Mustang into a wooded area. The P-51 collided with a tree which fell, striking Hinz and causing fatal injury.
The Red Tail Project is rebuilding the plane, honoring both the Tuskegee Airmen and Hinz. White’s film has been endorsed by the Tuskegee Airmen community, and includes a number of rare interviews with surviving Airmen.
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