The documentary film “Red Tail Reborn,” which tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African Americans to serve as military pilots, has been added to the 2007 AirVenture schedule.
Michael Dorn, an actor and accomplished pilot who is known around the world for his portrayal of Commander Worf in the Star Trek franchise, hosts the 55-minute film.
The producers of “Red Tail Reborn” traveled the United States to shoot interviews with members of the Tuskegee Airmen. During World War II, the men flew P-51 Mustangs with distinctive red tails. Their primary mission was providing escort for bombers over Europe. Although they racked up an impressive record in the war zone, back home they were still the targets of racism and segregation.
“They were war heroes but when they came home they still had to sit in the back of the bus,” says Adam White, the director and producer of the movie, which was a year in the making. “‘Red Tail Reborn’ is actually three stories. The first story is about the Tuskegee Airmen. Many of them are still with us and were interviewed. Most of them had a very ‘we were just doing our jobs’ approach. We used archival photos and what little film was shot of them in the 1940s to tell the story of what they did. It is a story that has really never been told to the general public.”
The second part of the story is about The Red Tail Project, a group of Minnesota-based aircraft restorers who painstaking restored a P-51 Mustang and painted it in the colors of the Tuskegee Airmen. The color of the aircraft’s tail gives the group its name.
“In the early part of this decade they restored the airplane then flew it around to various air shows to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen,” says White. “What makes this part of the story especially emotional was that Don Hinz, the leader of the project, was killed in 2004 during an air show when the airplane crashed. We interviewed Ben Hinz, his son, who is a pilot and a captain in the Marines. He talks about his recollections of aviation and why he still flies and why it’s still important to him although aviation took his father from him. We also talked with the rest of the crew who were Don’s friends about what they went through because Don was not the only pilot for the Mustang. What happened could have happened to any one of them.”
The latter part of the film tells about the Red Tail Project’s efforts to rebuild the aircraft a second time in order to resume its mission of education in honor of both the Tuskegee Airmen and their departed friend.
You can see the story for yourself at AirVenture at the following screening times and locations: July 24 and 27 at 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 pm in the Skyscape Theatre in the AirVenture Museum and July 29 at 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. in the Honda Pavilion.
White notes that the film has been picked up by PBS stations around the country and will be airing later this year. Check your local listings for details.
Copies of the DVD are also available.
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