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CAF Red Tail Squadron Releases 2015 Spring Event Schedule

Photo by Gary Chambers

Photo by Gary Chambers

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron, America’s tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, today announced the spring dates and locations for their RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit mobile theater and P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen. Each stop offers locals the opportunity to learn about one of the most remarkable and little-known groups of American history.

The mission of the CAF Red Tail Squadron is to educate audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen – America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel – so their strength of character, courage and ability to triumph over adversity may serve as a means to inspire others to RISE ABOVE obstacles in their own lives and achieve their goals.

“The RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is designed to take visitors on a journey through time, then virtually through the air with our panoramic cinema experience. And there is nothing quite like seeing our Mustang and hearing the roar of the engine in person,” said Brad Lang, CAF Red Tail Squadron leader and one of the pilots of their P-51C Mustang. “This is an unique and inspirational way for people to see first-hand the struggles and challenges faced by the Tuskegee Airmen. These fine Americans showed extraordinary courage as they fought for their right to serve our country, and it’s a part of our history that simply must be heard.”

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is using the excitement of aviation as a tool to help change lives, and these events are a platform to bring this inspirational message to audiences everywhere. The spring 2015 event schedule includes:

 

Miami, Fla. – March 5-8

Wings Over Miami Air Museum

 

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. – March 11-14

Pompano Beach Airport

 

DeLand, Fla. – March 20-21

CAF Florida Wing

 

Tallahassee, Fla. – March 24-28

Tallahassee Airport

 

DeFuniak Springs, Fla. – April 10-11

5th Annual Marvel of Flight

 

New Smyrna Beach, Fla. – April 17-19

Balloon & Sky Fest

 

Lakeland, Fla. – April 21-26

SUN’n FUN

 

Pittsburgh, Pa. – April 30 – May 3

Beaver County Historic Weekend Celebration

 

Westminster, Md. – May 6-9

Carroll County Regional Airport

 

Chicopee, Mass. – May 16-17

The Great New England Air Show

 

Erie, Pa. – May 30

Erie International Airport Tom Ridge Field

 

Reading, Pa. – June 5-7

Mid Atlantic Air Museum WWII Weekend

 

For more detailed information, visit the group’s calendar at redtail.org/calendar. Entrance to the Exhibit is always free, although tickets may be required for entry to individual events.

While on tour, the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit makes additional visits to area schools where students are encouraged to think critically about the group’s guiding Six Principles – Aim High, Believe In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready To Go, Never Quit and Expect to Win. For the vintage aviation enthusiast, rides in the P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen are available for purchase. Contact Marvona Welsh, CAF Red Tail Squadron logistics coordinator, at marvona@redtail.org or (812) 240-2560 for more information about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or to schedule an appearance of the Exhibit or the Mustang. All proceeds generated are used to fund the group’s educational outreach initiatives.

Individuals, businesses, community organizations and foundations that are interested in supporting the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s mission can learn more about sponsorship opportunities by contacting LaVone Kay, marketing director, at info@redtail.org or (888) 928-0188. One-time or recurring donations can be made securely online at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/crts or sent to: CAF Red Tail Squadron, 971 Hallstrom Drive, Red Wing, MN 55066.

 

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

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Behind the “pen” with our blog writer Darcy Castro

If you’ve been a follower of the CAF Red Tail Squadron blog for the last year or so, you know that we’ve put out some pretty interesting articles, including pilot profiles, interviews with Tuskegee Airmen and in-depth looks at what the Squadron is doing and how you can help. Who’s behind the pen or (more appropriately) the keyboard? Darcy Castro, a member of our team who is responsible for our creative writing and communications outreach.

Castro came to the Squadron with a flair for aviation, and a deep commitment to non-profit and service-based organizations, with a particular passion for associations that collectively work towards a just common goal. She has had the privilege of being a contributing writer and reporter to several publications, including the Dallas Morning News. She is a 15-year veteran of the public relations industry.

“When I was in college I took a fascinating and enlightening course on the Harlem Renaissance of the 20’s and 30’s, and had the opportunity to broaden the discussion to topics like the Tuskegee Experience. Surely, someone in our country should not have to be at the university level to learn about these great Americans,” said Castro. “Working with the CAF Red Tail Squadron is a privilege, plain and simple. To be able to bring this important piece of history to kids – and adults! – is a beautiful cause and I am excited to be a part of the effort.”

Darcy and her husband Lt Col Juan Castro, USAF Reserves, visiting the CAF Red Tail Squadron's  P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen.

Darcy and her husband Lt Col Juan Castro, USAF Reserves, visiting the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen.

Outside of the office, Darcy prides herself on being a mother of four, devoted Air Force wife and spare-time (ok, someday) author. Fun fact and claim to fame? She was the Executive Director of the Miss Portland Scholarship Program and guided a young Katie Harman through her organization on up through the ranks to become Miss America 2002. These days she gives her volunteer hours to members of the active duty military making the transition to the civilian workforce by providing complementary resume review and writing services. Contact her at darcycastro.com to learn more.

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

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Good news from the hangar: Engine coming along nicely!

The second half of January ended up being pretty quiet around the hangar. The team at AirCorps Aviation was waiting patiently for the needed engine parts for our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen to come in, and they were finally shipped back late last week. They got started on putting the engine back together ASAP and we are happy to report that the banks are back on the engine, but we are still waiting on the pivot shafts for the landing gear. The finish line is coming!

merlinv1650-1aAn interesting side note, the Tuskegee Airmen’s engine is a Rolls-Royce Merlin, the technologically-ahead-of-its-time machinery that allowed the P-51 to become the powerhouse it is known for in WWII. The advent and installation of this engine into the Mustang fleet during the war transformed their performance, and ultimately the outcome of the fight in Europe, by making the aircraft a mechanically-matched contender with its German counterparts. The decision to re-engine the Mustang gave it the fame of being called “the plane that won the war.” Impressive.

Although the Tuskegee Airmen needed some pretty important maintenance and repairs, this magnificent aircraft is in no way in danger of being grounded for the long haul. We put the aircraft’s condition and safety as the highest priority, and since we set the standards so high we have a lot to do to get it back in the pristine condition it deserves.

THANK YOU to those who have provided additional financial support to help ensure the utmost safety and longevity of our beloved and inspirational P-51C Mustang! We have been happy to hear from so many of you. Thanks for checking in to see how the Mustang is coming along. It’s great to know how many supporters we have that are as equally caring about this great cause as we are.

We will report more soon, so keep your eyes on our blog for the next update!

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The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

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Get in the jumpseat with CAF President and CEO Stephan Brown!

Commemorative Air Force President and CEO Stephan C. Brown.

Commemorative Air Force President and CEO Stephan C. Brown.

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is proud to be a part of the Texas-based Commemorative Air Force, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to honoring American military aviation history through flight, exhibition and remembrance. The CAF has collected and flown warbirds for over half a century and is the largest flying museum in the world. Our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen is a part of this fleet of 162 aircraft, which interestingly enough began in 1957 with – you guessed it – a P-51 Mustang!

CAF President and CEO Stephan Brown sits down with us to share his perspective on the direction of the CAF, and his personal experience in the field of aviation. Brown is a former Army aviator and private pilot with more than 2,000 hours logged in military and civilian aircraft, and has almost 25 years of leadership, marketing and financial management experience.

Read on to get to know our leader better, and get inspired!

 ***

I see from your bio that you have a background as a helicopter pilot in the Army. What inspired you to pursue aviation?

As a kid, my father always expressed a love of aviation, even though he wasn’t an aviator. He flew a bit as a crewman and in a small plane when he was young. So, his love of flying got me interested. When I was 19 I went to Kitty Hawk and paid $25 for 5 flights with Kitty Hawk Kites, which is still in business today. They were short hops, but it gave me motivation to work hard to obtain a flight school slot in the Army. When I was a rated helicopter pilot stationed in West Germany, I got to know the local German FBO owner. I was too young and naive to know any better, so I asked him how could I own my very own airplane. He helped me to get a bargain from a local German man who was selling a Cessna FR172 (made in Reims, France). So at age 26, I took private lessons and was the only owner on a base of 600 Army aviators with a private airplane (all of whom were more experienced than I). So, while my buddies were stuck on base over the weekends, I was flying off to the Alps! Another upshot of my pursuit of aviation was that I was able to teach my father to fly when he was in his 60’s!

What piqued your interest in warbirds?

When I was the Chief Marketing Officer of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) I worked with the Warbirds of America and many of their key leaders became my friends – most notably, John Baugh. He was a mentor to me there and his love of warbirds translated over to me. Plus, who doesn’t get excited by those big radial engines or the sound of a V12 Mustang?! Then, when I became the president of the CAF, my exposure was even more intense and I really fell in love with these airplanes and all the members who keep them flying.

What are initiatives of interest to the CAF in 2015?

Our key initiative internally is the CAF National Airbase project. We are moving the CAF headquarters to Dallas, a large metropolitan area, and endeavor to build a world-class aviation attraction like no other. To do that, we must work out the design and then raise the $40+ million it will cost. In the field, with our units, the goal is to continue to educate Americans by operating our aircraft and displaying them to the public in any venue that affords us that opportunity. Additionally there are units that are growing and striving to become an Airbase, which is a type of “super-unit.” Arizona has already done it and the So Cal Wing is about to break ground on some new facilities, which will transform them into an Airbase.

How does the Red Tail Squadron benefit the CAF as a whole?

The Red Tail Squadron and its RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is the most significant national educational outreach program, especially to young people, that we have in the CAF. The ability to use the airplane and the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to inspire young people to RISE ABOVE their circumstances is very powerful. The Squadron also provides the opportunity to educate all Americans on the role of the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII and brings pride to the African American community because of their significant and inspirational contributions in this war.

What is your vision for the CAF in the years to come?

My dream and vision for the CAF is that we be recognized as the most impactful aviation association in America. I can envision this because our target audience is not just aviation enthusiasts – it is all Americans. Our mission is to educate, and with 70+ units around the country, operating 162 airplanes, we are uniquely positioned to accomplish that mission.

What would be your advice to young people who are interested in pursuing aviation?

As it is with anything worth pursuing, it takes drive and effort. My advice for a young person is to find a mentor who flies and start pestering them to take them flying to learn the basics! Then go online and learn what you can, including getting a private pilot course like they sell at Kings Schools or Sporty’s. Work hard, save your money and start taking lessons. Flying has a few more barriers to entry, but you can get a pilot’s license at the same age as you can get a driver’s license! You might have to get a job and save your money, but what would be more exciting to say – “I’m gonna hop in my car and drive to a burger joint,” or “I’m gonna fly to the next state to see something really fabulous!” Young people like cool things and there is nothing cooler than leaving the ground in an airplane that you are flying!

***

Follow Brown’s blog, “From the President’s Desk,” as he chronicles his journey from unit to unit examining the big topics of the organization. Learn more about the CAF, see its fleet of historic warbirds – known as the Ghost Squadron – and find out about upcoming events at commemorativeairforce.org.

 

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

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Meet Ken Mist, our new volunteer coordinator!

ken_mistPlease join us in offering a warm welcome to Ken Mist, the new volunteer coordinator for the CAF Red Tail Squadron! Mist recently retired after 36 years with a global logistics company and is now graciously volunteering his time to help fulfill the Squadron’s mission!

To say Ken is an aviation enthusiast would be an understatement. Just check out his amazing photography to see for yourself. For years he has been working at air shows, first as a volunteer and then as chairman of the organizing committee for a static show in support of the Canadian Air & Space Museum.

“The camera came out and never went away,” said Mist. “I love to capture the feel of the air shows and aviation museums – the excitement, the people and of course the airplanes. I’m happy when someone likes my work and says it sparks a memory or emotion.”

Mist has been a supporter of the CAF Red Tail Squadron since 2012, after visiting the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit at an event in Dayton, Ohio. He had seen our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen at prior events, and knew Squadron pilot Bill Shepard. “The message of RISE ABOVE and the dedication of the squadron members is inspiring,” he says. “I am excited to play any part in sharing the story with today’s generation.”

Are you interested in volunteering with the Squadron? If so, we want to hear from you! Whether you can commit to volunteering for an extended period of time on the road (for example, a two-week tour through a particular geographic region) or are able to meet us in your hometown for a specific event, we are looking for volunteer participation in one or more of the following areas:

– Setting up and tearing down the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, a state of the art 53-foot trailer that expands to create a 30-seat theatre with a 160-degree panoramic screen.

– Assisting in the registration of school groups and individuals to participate in the exhibit to see the free movie.

– Telling the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and how their courage and dedication resonates in today’s world.

– Working with our staff to make sure that our VIPs are comfortable, at times including original Tuskegee Airmen themselves.

If you would like to be considered for this incredible opportunity – and help preserve the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and inspire audiences across the country – contact us with your questions at 888-928-0188 or volunteer@redtail.org, or go online to submit a volunteer application form!

“This is an incredible opportunity to share the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and spread the RISE ABOVE principles to today’s youth. The message is more important now than ever,” said Mist. “The Greatest Generation could have no better representation than these Airmen and we owe it to all of them to carry their courage and dedication forward. As their numbers dwindle the torch must be passed on!”

RISE ABOVE!

 

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.

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