BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron will perform a flyover of the Birmingham Veterans Day parade Wednesday in honor of Alabama’s legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen, trained at Tuskegee University in Alabama, were the first African-American aviators in the U.S. military. Formed during WWII, the 99th Flying Squadron, which later earned the name “Red Tails” for their distinctively painted plane tails, became one of the most fearsome groups of fighters in the European theater.
In many ways the Tuskegee Airmen and their skill and bravery during WWII began the dismantling of the discrimination and segregation in which the rest of the country was still mired.
Their story was captured in the 2012 film “Red Tails,” executive produced by George Lucas and starring Cuba Gooding, Jr..
“The Tuskegee Airmen overcame segregation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II,” explains TuskegeeAirmen.org. “They proved conclusively that African Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The Tuskegee Airmen’s achievements, together with the men and women who supported them, paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.”
The flyover will be performed by a fully restored P-51C Mustang, the signature plane flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, and accompanied by a B-17 Flying Fortress named the Memphis Belle.
“Our P-51C Mustang is not only a fine tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, but a vehicle for us to share their inspirational legacy,” said CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader and P-51C Mustang pilot Bill Shepard. “Kids and adults can gain a greater understanding of the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, and through this may find the inspiration to reach a little higher.”
The flyover will occur during Birmingham’s Veterans Day Parade on Wednesday Nov. 11 at 1:30 p.m..
The route has been adjusted slightly this year due to construction in downtown Birmingham.
The aircraft will also be available for up-close viewing at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport Monday November 9, and Tuesday November 10.
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— Elizabeth BeShears (@LizEBeesh) January 21, 2015