The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and Texas Flying Legends Museum (TFLM) have reached a sponsorship agreement that will bring the CAF Red Tail “Rise Above” Mobile Exhibition and Education Tour to reality. The museum has committed to donating $1 million to the production of the traveling exhibit.
“The CAF ‘Rise Above’ Mobile Exhibition and Education Tour is an important and exciting step for the Commemorative Air Force and we look forward to educating people of all ages on the historical impact of the Tuskegee Airmen — and all of American military aviation — on the freedoms we enjoy today,” said CAF President/CEO Stephan Brown. “The generous support of the Texas Flying Legends Museum will give us the opportunity to share the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen with a new generation, in a powerful presentation. Across the country, this mobile exhibition will share the story of their achievements through overwhelming adversity, to encourage and inspire today’s children to overcome their own challenges in life.”
The “Rise Above” exhibit will be housed in a 53-foot mobile exhibition and use the airmen’s story as an inspirational example of how today’s youth might reach beyond their grasp to attain new levels of achievement as the Tuskegee Airmen did in World War II, and “rise above” the challenging circumstances in their lives.
“It is exciting to see the CAF ‘Rise Above’ Mobile Exhibition become a reality,” said Brad Lang, CAF Red Tail Leader and Pilot, and son of a Tuskegee Airman. “I am proud to be associated with this exhibition which celebrates and honors the difficult path that my father and all Tuskegee Airmen took to fight for their country. This exhibition brings their story to life and gives us a greater opportunity to reach young people at aviation and non-aviation events.”
CAF Red Tail was started in the 1990s as a project by a group of volunteer members from the Commemorative Air Force Minnesota Wing. The group, lead by pilot and entrepreneur Don Hinz, wanted to restore a P-51 that would create interest in the history and legacy of the first black military pilots who flew this type of airplane during World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen. In 2001, the restoration was completed and Tuskegee Airmen took to the skies, but tragedy struck just three short years later. During a routine fly-by, a catastrophic engine malfunction brought the plane down and Don Hinz, who was at the controls, lost his life. Even as they grieved for their friend and leader, the members of the CAF Red Tail never wavered, according to CAF officials. The group rallied and with the guidance and leadership of Doug Rozendaal, Hinz’s friend, they rebuilt the Mustang and now continue their mission to use it as a tool to create interest in the Tuskegee Airmen’s story.
“I met Doug Rozendaal on my first trip to go see what turned out to be the museum’s first warbird purchase,” said Chris Griffith, president of the Texas Flying Legends Museum. “That evening…I learned the story of the Red Tail and Don Hinz’s vision. Doug’s steadfast dedication to the Tuskegee Airmen and his friend’s vision of carrying their message forward, combined with our organizations’ common message of inspiration and honor, made this partnership with the CAF something that had to happen. We are thrilled for the youth of America everywhere!”
“Rise Above” will tour the country approximately 40 weeks each year. Tuesday through Thursday each week, it will be at schools and other places where young people congregate. The exhibition will join with the CAF’s P-51C Tuskegee Airmen on weekends at aviation events and other public venues.
When in “downtown” venues, the exhibition will feature a 30- to 40-minute documentary. When at public venues the exhibition will feature a shorter five- to seven-minute version to accommodate more visitors.
Based out of Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, the Texas Flying Legends Museum flies its growing collection each spring to North Dakota, every summer to Maine and back to Houston every fall. The museum’s mission is to acquire the best flying World War II aircraft available today, and campaign these flying legends with a message of inspiration and honor. For more information: www.flyingfreedom.us
Collecting, restoring and flying vintage historical aircraft for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. The CAF is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition and remembrance. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has more than 8,000 members and a fleet of 156 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 74 units located in 27 states for care and operation. For more information: www.commemorativeairforce.org or 432-563-1000