'Red Tail' squadron flying to Purdue to honor Tuskegee Airmen

September 26, 2012  

Red Tail Squadron

The Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron is bringing it's RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibition that honors the Tuskegee Airmen to Purdue during Homecoming Week. Brad Lang, a 1985 Purdue aviation technology graduate (pictured) and son of a Tuskegee airman, will fly in a restored Red Tail version of the P-51C Mustang flown during WW II by America's first black airmen. (Photo provided CAF Red Tail Squadron)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron will visit Purdue Airport on Oct. 10-13 to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and teach about their color boundary-breaking accomplishments during World War II.

The  squadron will bring a restored, red-tailed P-51C Mustang flown by the airmen during the war and the interactive RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit that uses the example of America's first black military pilots and their crew members to teach schoolchildren how to rise above adversity to achieve their dreams.

Many expected the Tuskegee training program that President Franklin Roosevelt established, under political pressure, would fail. But the bomber crews flying dangerous missions over Germany learned to rely on and request escort from the skilled "red tail angels" because of their fierce combat style.

In the last two years of the war, Tuskegee Airmen flew more than 1,500 missions. Their excellence helped prompt the Pentagon to desegregate all of its armed forces in 1948. That paved the way for leaders like Gen. Colin Powell, who rose to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the U.S.

The squadron will host visiting students in grades 3-12, who will see a short movie profiling the airmen, visit the fighter plane, talk with the pilot, fly in a simulator and engage in activities run by Purdue colleges of Science, Technology, Engineering and Liberal Arts. Older students will have the opportunity to eat in a Purdue dining court, and, if they choose, tour campus. Red Tail pilot Brad Lang, a Purdue Avition Technology graduate and son of a Tuskegee Airman, said all students will learn the six Rise Above guiding principles: aim high, believe in yourself, use your brain, never quit, be ready to go and expect to win.

"Most of the Tuskegee trainees had already attended college, but less than half of the first class made it through the rigorous flight training program," Purdue Aviation Technology lecturer Robert Moser said. "Only those who studied hard became pilots."

The exhibit will be open to the general public at no charge from 3-5 p.m. on Oct 10-12 and 9 a.m. to noon on Homecoming Saturday (Oct. 13) at the Purdue Airport. For more information on field trips and public viewing opportunities, contact Vanessa Buntin at vpuckett@purdue.edu. The travelling exhibit can accommodate a maximum of 35 students per group. Slots are available on a first-come basis. The reservation deadline is Oct. 8.

Christine Taylor, Purdue's vice provost for diversty, will host an invitation-only scholarship banquet Oct. 13 featuring a speech by Tuskeegee airman Col. Charles McGee.

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-494-6262, jschenke@purdue.edu

Sources: Bob Moser, 765-494-8179, bobmoser@purdue.edu

Vanessa Buntin, College of Technology Manager of Special Events, 765-494-0887, vpuckett@purdue.edu

Related websites:
Purdue Red Tail event

Red Tail Rise Above

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