Commemorative Air Force Blogs

Welcome to the Commemorative Air Force Blogs. A great way to stay informed about what is going on with the CAF.

Dallas students learn about art while being inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen

During our 3rd annual Black History Month events at the CAF National Airbase, students from local Southern Dallas schools were onsite to practice their photography skills while being inspired by the lessons of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Check out some of their artwork!

Dallas shoot

Each year, the CAF Red Tail Squadron along with members of the CAF Education team located at CAF headquarters put on a month-long event for local area students, inviting schools and community groups to come to the CAF hangar for a multitude of fun activities. The RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is a featured attraction, along with several other opportunities to learn about and be inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen.

Cheers to these students for their effort and artistic vision. We look forward to more fun and meaningful events at the CAF headquarters in Dallas!


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

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(Reprinted with permission)

Volume 9, Number 1, March 18, 2016

by Dan Hallowell


Emergency extraction cards are to the air show industry as Twitter and Facebook are to the social media: everyone is doing it and if you’re not, you’re going to be left behind. 

Over the past three years, putting the most efficient egress information into the hands of the first responders has gone from a poorly publicized project to a widely praised professional tool that the FAA is looking to require for all air shows. There is confusion in the field as to how this tool works, so let’s all get on the same page.

Six weeks from the first day of an ICAS member air show, the ICAS database goes into the ICAS Air Show Calendar to find all performers listed for a particular air show. Our custom software combines all of the available extraction information for those performers into a single PDF file.  That file is then sent six weeks, four weeks, two weeks and one week from the show date to the email address for the person listed in the ICAS database as the air show’s primary point of contact. ICAS requests and expects that primary contact point to pass this extraction information along to the appropriate operations person for the event.

In order to insure the most accurate information, it is critical that both event organizers and performers do their part to maximize the chance for success.  Air show organizers must confirm that the list of performers on the ICAS Air Show Calendar is complete and accurate.  Leaving off one performer may result in that performer’s information being left out of your show’s packet.  Performers must make sure that they are listed on the ICAS Air Show Calendar and that their emergency extraction information is loaded onto the ICAS website.  A performer can add, edit or simply confirm their extraction information by hitting the “edit” button on their organization profile page on the ICAS website. 

Please contact Dan Hollowell at with any questions.


Although we have had a few shows so far this year, the 2016 North American air show season begins in earnest this month as the two U.S. military jet teams perform at their first shows in El Centro, Tucson, Tampa and Los Angeles County.

All indications point to an especially strong year. The U.S. military is fully engaged. Ticket prices are up. Enthusiasm is high. And our entire industry is poised to finish the process of shaking off the negative impact of sequestration in 2013 and 2014.

Whether you are an event organizer or a performer, ICAS encourages you to help make your contribution to a successful year by deciding, right now, that this is a year when you will put safety first. Before the season is fully underway, commit yourself to making the safe decision anytime and every time that you find yourself with a choice between doing something safely and doing it less safely.

If you’re an event organizer and you find yourself wrestling with low ceilings and marginal weather conditions, decide right now – weeks or even months ahead of time – which you will make the safe decision.

If you are a pilot who is fighting the flu or a nagging mechanical problem with your plane, decide today – as your season is just getting started – that you will make safety your #1 priority.

Of course, making the simple decision to be safe is not always enough to stay safe. But just as often, it is. So, while the temperature is still cold and nearly the entire 2016 season lies ahead of us, decide right now that you won’t take unnecessary chances, that you’ll identify risks and mitigate them as best you can, and that you will always opt for the safer alternative, whether you have several days or less than a second to make that decision.


As the air show season begins to spool up, performers across the country are knocking off the proverbial and literal rust.  The spring thaw has many pilots curing their cabin fever with a healthy dose of 100LL.  While performers satisfy their engines with a fresh batch of oil, it is important that we all follow that lead and look to the aspects of our involvement in the air show industry that need some extra attention to return to mid-season form.

Performers:  Consider G tolerance. Some pilots have not flown in upwards of four months, but their minds are still familiar with the execution of maneuvers. This can be a dangerous combination. A pilot who hasn’t practiced in a few months will easily remember how to execute the maneuvers of the show, but the pilot’s G tolerance will be significantly lower than it was, due to the lack of conditioning. The biggest mistake you can make is to forget how physically demanding the high G environment is on your body. The solution: practice often, but start slow.

Few things grease the gears better than practice.  Practice is the WD-40 of an air show performance.  It should be applied liberally and often, especially during the conditioning phase of the season.  Remember that the ground doesn’t make a distinction between a practice and a show.  When practicing, you should be positive beyond equivocation that you can perform any and all maneuvers AT ALTITUDE prior to practicing your maneuvers at show level…even if they are maneuvers that you have been performing at low altitude for many years.


Last year, ICAS published a pair of documents aimed at providing a wealth of information in a variety of formats for both rookies working to begin their careers as air show performers and veterans eager to improve and better understand their craft. 

They are ideal documents for performers to review as part of the shaking-off-the-cobwebs process.

Copies of Air Show Performers Safety Manual and Voices of Experience:  Air Show Veterans on Flying Low-Level Aerobatics have been sent to all holders of Statement of Aerobatic Competency (SAC) card holders, but -- to ensure a wider distribution of this information and because non-performer members might have an interest in this material -- ICAS is making these two documents available to all ICAS members. 

They are both intended to be organic documents that are revised, expanded and improved regularly. So, if you have suggestions for improvements, please don’t hesitate to pass them along for possible inclusion in the next revision of either document.


Ops Bull is the YOUR ICAS Operations Bulletin. We use your ideas, your contributions, and your experiences to generate operations- and safety-related articles to keep safety and operations issues at top of mind awareness throughout the air show season.  Now in its ninth year of publication, Ops Bull is only as good as the ideas, contributions and experiences you are willing to share with your air show colleagues.

So, if you’ve got an idea, don’t hesitate to pass it along.

© International Council of Air Shows, Inc.
748 Miller Drive, Suite G-3
Leesburg, Virginia 20175
Phone: 703-779-8510
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Portraits of Tuskegee Airmen: Luther Smith

Portraits of Tuskegee Airmen: Luther Smith

Character. What we do with what we’ve been given. What we do in the face of adversity. What we do when times are good, and bad. In the profile of Capt Luther Smith – original Tuskegee Airman, engineer, patent-holder, community servant and father – we are given a great example of this valuable trait.

Smith’s dreams of flight began early in childhood. He held them tight, even when everyone around him and the constructs of society at the time seemed to make that dream an impossible reality. But Smith believed in the power of preparation… to be ready just in case circumstances may change and an opportunity could present itself.

Screen Shot 2016 02 05 at 4.46.12 PMAs an 11-year-old growing up in Iowa, Smith found $5 in a field used it to buy a ride in an airplane for him and his younger brother. The experience had him hooked on aviation. The tenacious young man would walk five miles everyday to the airport where he made himself useful to anyone that would have him, planning to learn all he could and one day get a seat in the cockpit. The local paper even wrote a story on him. By 1940, he had earned his pilot’s license, becoming one of the first black Americans to do so.

He didn’t stop there. Smith was determined to fly in the military, even though the U.S. Army Air Corps did not allow African Americans to serve as pilots, regardless of experience and ability. He made sure he was prepared anyhow.

When he was a student at the University of Iowa studying engineering, he knew that military pilots needed a minimum two years of college education, so to advance his chances he made sure to check that box. And as fate would have it, the Air Corps created the flight-training program at the Tuskegee Institute, and Smith went on to earn his wings in the program.

Unfortunately, the challenges of being a black in a time of severe racial prejudice and discrimination in our country did not evaporate when he became an officer and fighter pilot, volunteering to fight for our country in WWII. In fact, when he was en route to being deployed overseas, he was refused entry to a movie theater – a stark reminder of the tremendous obstacles yet to overcome.

Smith’s service with the 332nd Fighter Group included 133 combat missions within eight months, destroying two German aircraft in air and 10 in ground strafing attacks. On his final mission, Smith’s aircraft was heavily damaged and he bailed out over Yugoslavia, where he was taken captive as a POW for seven months. He was badly injured and emaciated by the time Allied forces liberated him, and endured a further two years of recovery stateside. He earned numerous commendations for his service and sacrifice, but his career as a military aviator came to a grinding halt, bringing Smith an early retirement and at the doorstep of starting over again.

After completing his degree, he went on to become the first African-American aerospace engineer for GE’s Missile and Space Operations, and served the company for the entire 38-year span of his career. He consulted with NASA, developed patents, earned a Master’s degree and helped the Navy create silent submarines. All of this from a man that GE didn’t initially want to even interview – a decorated war hero, well educated, determined – because of the color of his skin.

“His professional accomplishments after the war were groundbreaking for our society,” said his daughter Deborah Smith. “My father is unique, but of the Tuskegee Airmen that survived the war, it’s impressive to look at what they’ve achieved in their lives, coming from a relatively small group. It’s a testament to these men and the talent they had that would have otherwise been overlooked.”

It wasn’t until much later in life that Smith spoke publicly about his experiences as a Tuskegee Airmen, and when he did it was captivating. “In the year 2000 my father made one of his first speeches about his service in the war and it was the first time I heard him speak of it in much detail,” recalls his son, Gordon Smith. “The Tuskegee Airmen, like my father, share a common trait of determination and perseverance, and their success underscores these qualities. They are the perfect example of not letting incredible institutional barriers get in the way. It’s the kind of model you would want to provide for any young person. He delivered that message in a very impactful way to the audiences he spoke to.”

Smith honorably served on the jury that chose the design for the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. At the groundbreaking ceremony, he spoke about his time serving our country, and earned the praise of then president Bill Clinton, whom he also accompanied to Europe to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII. For his service, outstanding career and commitment to his community, Smith received much recognition, including an honorary doctorate from Tuskegee University in 2006.

Capt Luther Smith passed away in 2009 at the age of 89. He remains a vivid reminder of the Tuskegee Airmen’s ability to rise above the obstacles set before them to triumph over adversity. He fought the enemy abroad and racism at home. His inspirational life story is one not only of determination, but great success. We salute you sir.

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

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CAF names Red Tail Squadron’s Bill Shepard their new VP of education

CAF names Red Tail Squadron’s Bill Shepard their new VP of education

Recently the Commemorative Air Force, the parent organization of the CAF Red Tail Squadron, announced that Bill Shepard has been named their Vice President of Education. Shepard is concurrently the Squadron Leader of the CAF Red Tail Squadron and P-51C Mustang pilot.

Shepard will oversee the design, execution and funding of CAF’s national education program, called RISE ABOVE. This new program is a result of the success of the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and will expand to include other compelling stories of World War II aviation, such as the Women Air Service Pilots (WASP); all done in an effort to use the lessons of the past to inspire today’s youth to “rise above” their circumstances.

“I look forward to helping others realize their potential by celebrating the stories of the men and women that rose above their circumstances in service to their country,” said Shepard. “I am excited about the opportunity to continue what has become my life's work to ‘Inspire for Higher’ in all aspects of my life.”

Read the entire press release on the CAF website.

Join us as we congratulate Bill Shepard on his new position and exciting work with the CAF!

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

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Meet our new Squadron Leader!

Meet our new Squadron Leader!

The CAF Red Tail Squadron is proud to share that Bill Shepard has been promoted to the position of Squadron Leader. Bill has been an outstanding volunteer and advocate for the organization since 2009, piloting the Squadron’s P-51C Mustang around the country and speaking to thousands about the importance of the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

The ability to lead the CAF Red Tail Squadron requires more than aviation operations knowledge and management skill, but a keen desire and passion to carry on the vision of our late founder, Don Hinz.

“I never had the opportunity to meet Don, but I pledge to be true to his vision to carry the lessons and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen into every classroom in America. We will be giving so much more than a history lesson. Our inspirational and exciting message helps these kids learn how to apply the Airmen’s guiding principles to their own lives and find their own success,” said Shepard.

Bill is the manager of supply chain management for Fortune Minerals, and is also the firm’s manager of community engagement, bringing a unique talent for community relations to the role of Squadron Leader. In addition to his volunteer service with the CAF Red Tail Squadron, he has held leadership positions with the Canadian Harvard Aircraft Association, Tuskegee Airmen National Museum and the Urban Pilots Network. He has had his pilot’s license since the age of 16, and his passion for aviation has been a guiding force in his life since he was just a kid.

Bill’s vision for the future of the CAF Red Tail Squadron includes a commitment to sustainability and operational excellence. “I have profound respect for the Tuskegee Airmen and it is my honor to continue upon the foundation that was put in place by the Squadron leaders before me,” he said. “One of my highest priorities is to increase our impact on the communities we visit. We are fortunate to be a living, flying history museum. Our educational outreach mission will continue to grow as we engage with more people, grow our volunteer base and garner the support needed to visit new areas and communities that are in greatest need of our inspirational message.”

It is through 30 years of industry experience – and a deep love of aviation and respect for the Tuskegee Airmen – that his life’s work has brought him to this juncture. Bill understands the responsibility set before him, one of great importance, and has already demonstrated a level of commitment and integrity to the Tuskegee Airmen and the Red Tail Squadron that has been appreciated by his peers. “The selection of Bill Shepard to take on this important role was a wonderful choice,” said Stephan Brown, president of the Commemorative Air Force. “He has shown great skill and dedication in his years with the CAF Red Tail Squadron and we look forward to his continued success as he implements his own vision for leadership and growth.”

The CAF Red Tail Squadron would also like to thank Brad Lang outgoing Squadron Leader, for his extraordinary volunteer service to the organization. Under his leadership, Brad has overseen the rapid expansion of the Squadron’s educational outreach efforts, including the debut of the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit. Himself the son of an original Tuskegee Airman, he leaves a lasting impact on the mission of the Red Tail Squadron to educate audiences around the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Bill remarked that he would like to recognize the staff and volunteers of the CAF Red Tail Squadron, and that the organization continues to be successful because of the group that has been developed and their collective professional and personal dedication to the mission.

“It’s a good work of many. I tip by hat to our outstanding staff and volunteers across the country. It’s my watch now and I hope to make everyone proud.”

Congratulations Bill Shepard on your promotion to Squadron Leader! 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

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Countdown to ICAS Annual Event

Countdown to ICAS Annual Event

Good Evening Everyone

There is only two months left and if you are going to want a booth, please reply to me right away. The hotel and booth information is below:

Convention Delegates Reserving Rooms in ICAS Block Will Receive $100 Discount on Standard Registration Fees. Make your sleeping room reservation within the ICAS room block at the Rio All-Suites Hotel. The savings for registering this way can be as high as $190. "ICAS has negotiated terms that require that our delegates reserve a certain number of sleeping rooms during the ICAS Convention each year," says ICAS President John Cudahy. "So, to encourage our members to reserve within that block, this year, for the first time, we are offering a $100 discount on the standard registration fee to delegates who reserve and occupy a Rio sleeping room during this year's convention." 

Only members who have confirmed reservations at the host hotel under the ICAS room block are eligible for the discount. And members who have a reservation within the ICAS block, but cancel their hotel reservation, will not be able to take advantage of the discount.

This year, ICAS has negotiated a rate of $89 for convention participants. Delegates making a reservation within the ICAS block of rooms will also receive complimentary in-room internet access and will not be obligated to pay the standard $28/day resort fee.

To make your sleeping room reservation at the Rio All-Suite Hotel, call 888-746-6955 and use the group code: SRICS5. Alternatively, you can make your reservation on-line by visiting:

Booth assignments are first come, first served, so get your order in before they are all booked up. All you have to do is pick a booth and send me an email with your selection. Our spaces are 216 – 227 (see floor plan below) and the only ones left are 219, 220, ½ of 221 and 225.  The total price will be $1,190 (only $45 more than last year and $255 less than 2013!) and half that if you share. These prices include the CAF backdrop, so all you have to do is bring your unit and airplane specific displays to attach to the backdrop. If you will have computers and monitors to set up, bring extension cords and a power strip. When I confirm your selection I will send a copy to finance and they will bill you then. If you need to cancel your booth, we will refund your payment when and if we can  get another unit to fill it. Obviously, the closer to the convention the harder this will be to do.

Exhibitor set up is Sunday, December 6; please come by and help set up your (our boothes). We always get this done by helping each other, so plan on 2-3 hours starting at 0830.  The convention, including access to the exhibit hall is for members only.  Non registered guests may attend the last exhibit hall session on Thursday, accompanied by an ICAS registrant. 

You need to register under the CAF:

               Click on this link log on as bobstenevik, password midland, click select CAF and see if your name is on our membership list.

  1. If you are on the list, click on the pull down next to your name and select DISC (for discount), scroll to the bottom and click continue, enter your email address and credit card information and click submit.
  1. If you are not on the list, click on this link fill out the form to join, select member of Commemorative Air Force in the pull down and click submit. Then click on this link log on as BobStenevik, password midland, click select CAF, click on the pull down next to your name and select STD, scroll to the bottom and click continue, enter your email address and credit card information and click submit.

2015 ICAS floorplan

c.      216: TORA
d.     217: Arizona
e.      218: ½ Centex, ½ Invader Squadron
f.      219:
g.     220:
h.     221: ½ HQ
i.       222: Inland Empire
j.       223: B-24/B-29 Squadron
k.     224: ½ RMW, Lady Liberty ½
l.       225: Southern Cal ½
m.   226: Blastards/EOD

n.     227: Red Tail


© Image:Shutterstock/welcomia

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Restoration Grants for CAF Units

Restoration Grants for CAF Units

Several CAF units have benefitted from the CAF’s Restoration Grant Program. An internal program in which Units can apply for a matching grant from the CAF Headquarters; enabling CAF Units/Sponsor groups to accelerate their efforts of returning their aircraft to flying condition.

Those Units with aircraft restoration projects that fit the criteria will need to send a grant request as soon as possible. In the next few weeks decisions will be made to determine the projects most suitable for this program.

For those aircraft nearing completion or finished- You can do the paperwork, but aircraft that are mostly finished will have a lower priority (paint is part of restoration), but will be considered.

Please review the CAF Restoration Grant Guide and use the document as a guide for submitting a request.

NOTES- Don’t spend much time on unit history; concentrate on a timeline with milestones to finish the restoration and cost for each phase of the project. There needs to be enough information to see what you are spending money on. It is best to specifically ask for an amount of ½ of specific things you can accomplish in 12 months. If you have received a grant previously, just include the old request with an update on the work ahead and timeline. The money is a matching grant, so you will need to have, or raise money and the grant needs to be spent in one year.

For Questions, email

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CAF’s Florida Wing and Red Tail Squadron work together to share inspiration and make a dream come true

CAF’s Florida Wing and Red Tail Squadron work together to share inspiration and make a dream come true

By Woodie Sprouse, Wing Leader of the CAF Florida Wing and Darcy Castro, PR and Communications Coordinator for the CAF Red Tail Squadron

The CAF’s Florida Wing and Red Tail Squadron recently teamed up to bring the Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, along with their P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen, to the Florida Wing’s hangar in DeLand, Fla. Several days were designated for local school and youth groups, followed by an open house for the general public. It was a unique opportunity for all ages to experience the inspiring story of the Tuskegee Airmen – America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel.

The final event attracted many visitors and supporters of the CAF, and was the perfect setting for the conclusion of the dream of long-time CAF supporter Mr. Harry Van Iderstine.

Van Iderstine, a retired businessman and aviation enthusiast from New Smyrna Beach, Fla., watched as the crowd of friends and visitors slowly took their places in front of the Florida Wing’s shiny silver Beechcraft T-34A USAF trainer. Parked nearby was the Red Tail Squadron’s famous P-51C Mustang – the carefully restored and proudly maintained signature aircraft of the Tuskegee Airmen. Van Iderstine has a deep affinity and respect for the Tuskegee Airmen and the events of this day would be the conclusion of a dream that he had held close for so many of his 85 years.

Brad Lang and Harry Van Iderstine“The Red Tails were my kind of guys. They went through all sorts of adversity and they were my heroes,” said Van Iderstine. “What the Red Tail Squadron is doing is great and I hope they get the opportunity to change lives with their message.”

Born in Dennis, Mass., Van Iderstine served in the US Army during the war. After leaving the service – and as family, time and career permitted – he pursued his love of rare and exotic automobiles and in 1949 began his pursuit of collecting and restoration. Over the years, his home became the stable for the finest of those rare mechanical thoroughbreds such as the Cord, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Duesenberg.

At the age of 70, Van Iderstine took the next big step and obtained his private pilots license and in 2000 purchased a Cessna 182. Not one to rest, he purchased a restored T-34A in 2001 and two T-34B’s in 2002. Flying became his second passion and he loved it. However, as time passed and his health became an issue, he flew less and less. Still he loved to be near the sound and smell of airplanes.

As luck would have it, fortune smiled on Van Iderstine during an airshow in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. when he met Brad Lang, CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader and son of a Tuskegee Airman, who was flying the Squadron’s P-51C Mustang. The emotional connection between the two was instantaneous: they were men who loved flying…one aging, one young…one white, one black.

It was there that Van Iderstine’s dream took shape. The story of the Tuskegee Airmen – their perseverance, drive, strength to endure bias and their love of flying – struck a chord within him and a dream began. It was a dream that coincided with the Squadron’s mission to share the history and legacy with all children, regardless of race. Van Iderstine knew this new connection to Lang and the Red Tail Squadron’s mission was not a passing impulse. Lang personified those young black aviators who so long ago demonstrated that if you put your mind to a task and stuck to it, anything could be accomplished. It was the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and ensuring it was told to America’s children became his dream.

Over the years, Van Iderstine remained close to Lang and the Red Tail Squadron. His support for their efforts never wavered.  Then one day in December 2013, Harry’s longtime friend Art Patstone, a Colonel in the Florida Wing of the CAF, suggested to Van Iderstine that he consider donating his three T-34’s to the CAF. He agreed to donate the three aircraft, but with one hard and fast stipulation: his T-34A, which had been repainted with the distinctive red tail, must be assigned to the Red Tail Squadron.

Fast forward to this past March in the CAF Florida Wing hangar. Van Iderstine sat watching the visitors and friends of the CAF gather, knowing that his dream was now a reality. Lang was there beside him and together they shook hands on the symbolic physical transfer of the aircraft. Van Iderstine presented Lang with the CAF Wings decal logo, which adorns all CAF aircraft, and in that moment, the dream was realized.


Van Iderstine’s Red Tail T-34A will now take its place beside the Red Tail P-51C in its new home at the CAF Headquarters at the new CAF National Air Base in Dallas. This beautiful gesture is another example that if you put your mind to a task, it can be accomplished! On behalf of the CAF’s Red Tail Squadron and Florida Wing, thank you Mr. Van Iderstine for your generous gift, which will provide inspiration for generations to come.

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Portraits of Tuskegee Airmen: Judge Richard Rutledge

Judge RutledgeThe legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen by no means ends with their successful combat missions in WWII. Not only did their experience shape the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and the ongoing collective effort for equality, but the more than 10,000 men and women among the ranks of the Tuskegee Airmen used their military service as a platform for future professional success.

Jersey-born and Brooklyn-raised Richard Rutledge began is his five-year service when he enlisted in the U.S. Army Corps in 1941, and was assigned to the ground crew of the famed 99th Pursuit Squadron. By the beginning of 1943 he was commissioned as a Warrant Officer Junior Grade, but when the 99th departed Tuskegee Airfield that spring, Rutledge was transferred to an all-black engineer aviation squadron at March Field in Riverside, California.

“I was the Adjutant for the Headquarters Company. I went with them in a convoy of over 100 ships under the command of Admiral “Bull” Halsey and was part of the invasion of the Palau Islands on the South West Pacific,” recalls Rutledge. “Our battalion’s job was to build an airfield on the island so that General Douglas MacArthur could use it and ‘return to the Philippines’.”

By the time the war ended with the surrender of the Japanese, Rutledge had spent 20 months overseas and a total of five years in the Army Air Corps. His service complete, he went on to obtain an undergraduate degree at the Washington Square College of Liberal Arts & Science and then graduated in 1950 from the Brooklyn Law School.

Rutledge maintained a private law practice, Rutledge, Holmes, Mitchell, Willis and Kellam, in Queens for 34 years. He went on to be elected to the Civil Court of the City of New York for a term of 10 years. He was elected as Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York for 14-year term and served in Queens County for 7 years.

Richard20RutledgeNow a resident of Florida, Rutledge was appointed a Circuit Court Mediator by the Florida Supreme Court in 2000. Then in 2003 he was appointed by the U.S. District Court as a Federal Court Mediator.

Not only has Rutledge inspired many with his service to our country during WWII – in spite of the obstacles of racism, segregation and unequal opportunity – but his esteemed education and career continues to illustrate the power of determination and hard work.

Thank you Judge Rutledge for your service to the citizen of our country, both in your military and civilian careers, and for encouraging future generations to 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

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A fond farewell to Florida!

A fond farewell to Florida!

After a cold winter in the Minnesota hangar, our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen and the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit headed south for a well-deserved run in the sun. At each of our stops we met with as many school and youth groups as possible, wowed the crowds with the Mustang in the air and on static display, and forged many new friendships and support along the way. Here’s a look at some of our most memorable moments in the Sunshine State.

We kicked off our 2015 national tour in Miami. Original Tuskegee Airman Lt Col Leo Gray helped make our visit to the Wings Over Miami Air Museum even more impactful to the visitors who came to learn about the Tuskegee Airmen through our original movie “Rise Above” in the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit.


Moving to Ft. Lauderdale we welcomed visitors at Paul Kramer’s Learn to Fly Center, where we had the opportunity to directly reach many young people ripe for the inspirational message of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Pompano Beach Fl 007

Our next stop in DeLand was a unique opportunity to participate in an event with the CAF Florida Wing, one of our sister organizations within the Commemorative Air Force. Here we had the honor of accepting the donation on behalf of the CAF of three vintage WWII aircraft from longtime supporter Mr. Harry Van Iderstine.


In Tallahassee, we met lots of new students, even though it was our third time in the community. They learned about the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s guiding Six Principles – Aim High, Believe In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready To Go, Never Quit, Expect to Win – and how they can be applied to their own lives.


Another fun stop was at the 5th Annual Marvel of Flight Fly-in & Expo hosted by the city of DeFuniak Springs. The theme of this year’s event was “Rising Above Adversity” in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen. And there was no way we were going to let the unpredictable, turbulent Florida weather dampen our spirits!

DeFuniak Springs

Next stop was the New Smyrna Balloon and SkyFest. In the days prior to the event, we also visited Bethune-Cookman University. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of B-CU, was instrumental in getting President Roosevelt to open up the Tuskegee Institute for the training of black pilots during WWII.

New Smyrna

And last but certainly NOT least, we again were featured at the legendary SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland. This five-day event was filled with many remarkable moments, including the presentation of an award from the CAF Red Tail Squadron to four students from the Polk County School District’s Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA). They were selected because of an outstanding presentation on the Tuskegee Airmen that has earned them a spot representing the CFAA at a state history fair and have exhibited the Six Principles of the CAF Red Tail Squadron. The VIP award presenters were Col Charles McGee, original Tuskegee Airman pilot; Lt Col George Hardy, original Tuskegee Airman pilot; Captain James Ray, WWII B-17 bomber pilot; and John Leenhouts, President and CEO of SUN ‘n FUN. Shown here is one of the award winners, Viola Gould, with Col McGee.

Col. Charles McGee with award winner Viola Gould age 17 at the 2015 Sun n Fun

Many heartfelt thanks and praise go out to our Hometown Heroes, local sponsors and event managers whose hard work brought the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and the P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen to their communities. Their belief in and dedication to our mission has certainly had a great impact on our work to educate audiences everywhere about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.

And after two straight months touring the state of Florida, we moving on up the east coast! Keep an eye on our schedule to find out when we will be near YOU!


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

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Portraits of Tuskegee Airmen: Dr. William Morgan

Portraits of Tuskegee Airmen: Dr. William Morgan

Dr. William Morgan, originally from rural Pennsylvania, was a Tuskegee Airman and pilot who learned about the Tuskegee Institute’s aviation program for black men from an article in a newspaper. He volunteered for service to our country in 1943, making it into the first-of-its-kind program at the Tuskegee Institute and qualifying to enter pilot training, which only accepted 35 out of 537 candidates at that time.

Growing up in the one black family in his small town, Dr. Morgan had little experience around other people of color before his time in the military. He is known to have said, “I learned a lot about life after meeting the cream of the crop of the black race. I saw what we could make of ourselves.”

He earned his wings and was commissioned as a flight officer in 1945, assigned as a replacement to the 332nd Fighter Group, although the war came to an end before he could fulfill the assignment. His class would be the last to graduate from the Tuskegee Institute aviation program.

After his service, he came back to rural Pennsylvania to work on his family’s farm, and then went on to dental school in Pittsburgh where he earned his DDS degree. Dr. Morgan eventually settled with his family in Minnesota, where he lived until his passing in 2006.

Like many people – then and now – Dr. Morgan’s two children did not learn about the Tuskegee Experience in their schooling and although their own father had been a part of this groundbreaking group, they didn’t fully understand the impact of that until reaching college and delving into black history at a deeper level. The Morgan family had always lived in rural areas with very little black population or exposure to black history, and Dr. Morgan wanted his children to make their own decisions about the issues of race, unfettered from his own experience.

“He was humble. He just wanted to be a pilot,” says Susan Morgan, the second of Dr. Morgan’s two children. “For him, discrimination was a part of the process. He was doing what he wanted to do, not thinking about the impact it would have on black history. He knew that whatever environment you were in, you can overcome those barriers.”

Ms. Morgan says that her father helped her to erase prejudicial barriers and preconceived ideas because he didn’t let the difficult things he experienced impact his or his family’s life. She is grateful that he gave her the freedom and ability to figure out delicate issues like race on her own and make her own judgments.

“Dad never impressed his experience on us, but being a Tuskegee Airman broadened his understanding and impacted our family,” she shared. “The Airmen were more than pilots – they were pursuing a dream and living a life. And today that message of perseverance, to follow your dreams, is still important.”

On behalf of the CAF Red Tail Squadron, we salute Dr. William Morgan for his service to our country, and for continuing to be an inspirational figure for generations to come.


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

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A look at the Tuskegee Experience through the eyes of the wives

A look at the Tuskegee Experience through the eyes of the wives

Rosemary Crockett, PhD, was born into Tuskegee Airmen history. She is the second of four children born to Daisy and Woodrow Crockett. Her father was a pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group. During WWII, Lt Col Crockett flew 149 missions – including the historic bombing of Berlin in March 1944 – and he racked up an additional 45 combat missions in the Korean War. He twice received the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing pilots from burning aircraft. His other honors include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Service Medal, five awards of the Air Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and two awards of the Air Force Commendation Medal. In 2007, along with other surviving Tuskegee Airmen, he received the Congressional Gold Medal.

Dr. Crockett wants us to remember that military service was a family affair. With the support of the Tuskegee Airmen Wives Auxiliary of the East Coast Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. and others, Crockett is writing a book based on oral history interviews with wives of the Airmen. As the men were facing racial bias while serving their country, their spouses were sometimes their only support system – a crucial component that aided their perseverance and successful performance in the war.

“The actions of Rosa Parks led to a very public desegregation of bus service in Montgomery, Alabama, but years earlier these women quietly, nearly invisibly, desegregated Air Force bases throughout the country,” said Dr. Crockett. “Each day they navigated alien territory, sending husbands off to work and children off to school, while maintaining their households. Theirs was a quiet revolution, with far reaching consequences. The U.S. military is, even today, one of the most integrated elements of U.S. society, due in no small part to the men and women who were part of the Tuskegee Airmen experience.”

The Tuskegee Airmen Wives Tell Their Stories oral history project is based on 60 interviews, which reveal to the public for the first time, the stories of the women who stood shoulder to shoulder with the airmen. Wives of men of the 99th, 100th, 301st, and 302nd Fighter Squadrons, the 477th Bombardment Group, and related groups are included in the project. The resultant book will make the experiences of these women better known, giving readers an important inside look at what it was like to be young, female and black during the Tuskegee Experience, and how those families played a significant role in the desegregation of the United States military.

“It is important for us to understand the challenges of women who came before us in order to put our own challenges in perspective. The wives can teach us how to face challenges with courage, creativity, humor and dignity,” says Crockett. “When we learn about the hurdles that they faced, sometimes our own issues don’t seem quite so overwhelming. They are a challenge, but a challenge that can be met and overcome.”

This exciting project is still a work in progress. Publication of the book will be announced on the project’s website at Thank you to Dr. Crockett for working to make this important perspective of the Tuskegee Experience available for all to learn from and be inspired by!

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

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P-51D Mustang becomes airworthy once again in honor of one of the oldest living original Tuskegee Airman

P-51D Mustang becomes airworthy once again in honor of one of the oldest living original Tuskegee Airman

Hat tip to our friends at Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. (TAI) for the inside scoop on this remarkable story!

Lt. Col. Robert J. Friend celebrated a milestone at the end of February, turning 95 years old, holding the record as one of the oldest living original Tuskegee Airman. President Barak Obama, former President George W. Bush and General Mark Welsh III of the United States Air Force acknowledged the occasion by sending their personal birthday wishes to Friend.

“On behalf of the men and women of the United States Air Force, happy 95th birthday! You belong to a treasured generation of selfless Airmen and your service continues to inspire our Airmen today. The Tuskegee Airmen, especially Red Tail pilots, proved time and time again to be among the most courageous trailblazers of America’s “Greatest Generation,” and we celebrate your role in that elite group.”

~ General Welsh

Friend served with the 332nd Fighter Group stationed in Europe as Combat Operations Officer at the squadron and group levels, flying 142 combat missions during his service in WWII. He flew wing on Colonel Benjamin Davis (later General Benjamin Davis, the first African American General in the U.S. Air Force). His U.S. Army service extended in several other capacities during the Korean and Vietnam wars as well. After leaving the Army, he began a career with the Air Force and served as Assistant Deputy of Launch Vehicles, Foreign Technology Program Director and Director of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Program.

When Friend was in the air as a Red Tail during WWII, his aircraft was a P-51D Mustang, slightly different from our P-51C model, but a signature aircraft of the Airmen none the less. A D model painted up with his original “Bunny” bathing beauty has been on static display at the Palm Springs Air Museum for a number of years, but recently had an extensive overhaul to make it airworthy once again.

According to the TAI, the aircraft was not the one Friend flew in the war, although it was identical. This particular plane was built near the end of WWII, and never saw combat. It’s almost certain that the P-51D Friend piloted himself never made it back to the states. At the end of the war, it was too much trouble to return many of the combat aircraft to the U.S. and they were commonly scrapped in Europe, or if they were returned to the states they were sold to civilians for very little.

The late Bob Pond, a famous player in the air racing community, purchased the aircraft in 1980. Pond was a founding sponsor of the Palm Springs Air Museum and put the aircraft on static display there, after repainting it to resemble Friend’s aircraft, complete with the Bunny bathing beauty. The aircraft took its first trip back in the air last week at an event to honor Friend and fellow Tuskegee Airmen at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Also of credit to this inspirational Tuskegee Airman, Friend recently participated in Ride 2 Recovery, an event to benefit mental and physical rehabilitation programs for our country’s wounded veterans and healing heroes that features cycling as the core activity. Friend himself has ridden in the events, and plays a large role in helping to bring awareness to the program.

The volunteers and staff of CAF Red Tail Squadron wish Lt. Col. Robert Friend a very happy 95th birthday, and we thank you for your continued service to our country!

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

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We’re up in the air and ready for sunny FLORIDA!

We’re up in the air and ready for sunny FLORIDA!

Thanks to our great support team at Air Corps Aviation, our P-51C Mustang is back in tip-top shape and in the skies once again! The recent maintenance and repairs were intensive, but well worth the wait. And as you can see, the view is glorious!

We are on the road and ready to take Florida by storm in March and April. If you’re near any of the areas we will be visiting, we hope you will come out and see us in person. Our supporters are our family and we want to welcome you personally to see our RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and the P-51.

Here’s the line-up:

Miami – Join us for a special event at the Wings Over Miami Air Museum Saturday March 7 and Sunday March 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Ft. Lauderdale – Find us at the Paul Kramer’s Learn to Fly Center at the Pompano Beach Airpark Saturday March 14 from 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

DeLand – Come meet our allies from the CAF Florida Wing as we join them at their hangar AND get an up close look at several other vintage warbirds from the CAF collection Saturday March 21 and Sunday March 22.

Tallahassee – On Saturday March 28 find us at the Tallahassee Regional Airport for a community open house.

DeFuniak Springs – We are proud to be a part of the 5th Annual Marvel of Flight - Rising Over Adversity Fly In & Aviation Expo at the DeFuniak Springs Municipal Airport Friday April 10 and Saturday April 11.

New Smyrna Beach – Find us at the exciting New Smyrna Beach Balloon & Sky Fest Friday April 17 to Sunday April 19 at the New Smyrna Beach Airport.

Lakeland – We will wrap up our sunshine-infused tour through the state of Florida at SUN ‘n FUN for 6 days of fantastic inspiring events! Join us April 21 through 26 at Lakeland Linder Airport.

As always, you can find out about all our events on our calendar at Not in Florida? No problem! We’re going to be at lots of locations around the country in 2015 to STAY TUNED and keep your eyes on this blog, the calendar and our newsletter for the latest information about how YOU can come see the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen in the “flesh” and get inspired to 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

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USAF reactivates Red Tail 332nd squadron

In a historic moment that included the recognition of the Tuskegee Airmen, the United States Air Force recently held a ceremony to mark the reactivation of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group (AEG). The group is a direct descendent of the 332nd Fighter Group of WWII, known as the legendary Red Tails.

The 332nd has been activated and deactivated in accordance with the current needs of the USAF. Col. Jason Hanonver, commander of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, provided his remarks at the ceremony. “We celebrate the return of one of the most historic aerial fighting forces the world has ever seen as we stand up the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group,” he said. “Today, we once again call on the Red Tails to stand… as our nation’s sword and shield to join a powerful coalition to fight a (new) global evil.”

The group’s new commander is Col. Michael Stohler. He notes, “As Airmen of the 332nd, through our hard work and dedication, we will carry forward the honor (the Red Tails) deserve by remembering their sacrifices and success.”

The unit will work with coalition forces to support Operation INHERENT RESOLVE and other regional operations.

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

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Good news from the hangar: Engine coming along nicely!

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!

An 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!

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

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

Get in the jumpseat with CAF President and CEO Stephan 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


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

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Meet Ken Mist, our new volunteer coordinator!

Meet Ken Mist, our new volunteer coordinator!

Please 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, 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!”



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

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Repair update from the hangar

Repair update from the hangar

Here’s the latest status on the repairs to our P-51C Mustang. The plane is in good hands and making ample progress towards completion. Thanks to AirCorps Aviation for keeping our inspirational flyer in good hands!

Over the past week, the P-51C has undergone the following work:

- New flexible brake lines have been fabricated and tested and are ready for install.

- A vacuum line from the pump to firewall was removed and repaired where it had chaffed on cowling.

- The tailwheel steering cables were given a routine adjustment and rig.

- The tailwheel tire was replaced and the spare wheel assembly received a new tire and tube.

- There was some corrosion that was removed from panels forward of the windscreen. The inside of the panels were repainted.

- The Robertshaw actuators for the radiator and oil cooler doors were inspected for where on the brushes and points.

- The ELT antenna was replaced with the correct antenna for the type of ELT installed.

- The right mag that was removed during the season for repair has been fixed and will be installed back on the aircraft. 

Check out these photos to follow the action!

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Keeping our Mustang in tip-top shape!

Keeping our Mustang in tip-top shape!


Our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen is under the weather, of sorts. After bringing in the aircraft for routine maintenance, it has been revealed that there are some major items that are in need of immediate repair, which will ground us until this larger scope of work is complete.

The radiator, one of the legs of the landing gear, a piston ring and damage to the aileron cables are all on the docket for repair, along with the Mustang’s regularly-schedule maintenance. Although none of these needs indicate a life-threatening problem to the aircraft, they certainly are very expensive and need to be attended to before it can be flown again.

Tye Halvas and the team at AirCorps Aviation are giving us the inside scoop on the maintenance and repair, and we are going to keep you updated with regular posts and pictures to follow along with the process. Keep your eyes on this blog for updates!

Current work in progress:

Engine - The banks and pistons are at Roush Aviation and will be done the first week of February. Right now they are in the disassembly and inspection process.

Landing gear - The pivot shafts are getting magnafluxed and cadmium plated. They are expected back January 13th. At that point that landing gear will be reassembled, serviced with fluid and nitrogen and installed in the aircraft.

Horizontal stabilizer - The patch has been completed and the paint process is done though primer. As soon as the landing gear is in and the aircraft is back on the ground it will be painted red.

Radiator - The radiator has been cleaned and inspected. Repairs have been made to the solder and the core is currently being tested.

Check out these great photos from the crew at AirCorps Aviation. Join us on this blog as we follow our P-51C Mustang Tuskegee Airmen back to pristine condition!

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

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