The Red Tail Project’s P-51C Mustang has returned to the skies after a five-year absence.
TRIUMPHANT RETURN: The Red Tail’s P-51C, “Tuskegee Airmen,” made its first air show appearance at this year’s AirVenture, following its five-year restoration. Officials from EAA, the Red Tail Project and the Commemorative Air Force celebrated its return. Photo by Ben Sclair.
The Red Tail Project, an all-volunteer non-profit organization associated with the Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, just completed a $1 million restoration of the Mustang, named “Tuskegee Airmen.”
The Mustang had been restored once before and toured the air show circuit for three years starting in July 2001. Its pilots and crew took every opportunity to tell audiences across the country the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter pilots to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.
The Tuskegee Airmen painted the tails of their fighters red and as they 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 metals and designations, including the Congressional Gold Metal in 2007 in honor of their war service to the United States.
The Red Tail Project’s Mustang crashed due to catastrophic mechanical failure at the Red Wing Air Show in May 2004, killing the project’s leader, Don Hinz, and destroying the airplane.
Members of the Red Tail Project trucked the plane to Tri-State Aviation in Wahpeton, N.D., and fundraising began for the restoration efforts. A group of 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, the Red Tail Project will focus on the development of an educational traveling exhibit. This “museum on wheels” with the theme of “Rise Above” will have interactive displays that tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, their role in World War II and the desegregation of the U.S. armed services.
It has already appeared at several air shows, including AirVenture and an open house at South St. Paul’s Fleming Field.
For more information: RedTail.org