The Commemorative Air Force is honoring veterans at the Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo by bringing three wing units, a Boeing B-17, and the Rise Above traveling exhibit, a mobile theater that seeks to educate the public about the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Rise Above exhibit visits 40 cities a year, sharing the history of the Tuskegee Airmen with 608 schools and youth groups, said Bill Shepard, vice president of education for the Commemorative Air Force. More than 19,000 children have viewed the Rise Above film, he said.
“This year we’re looking to drill down further” and the Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron would like to take the exhibit to every state in the country, Shepard said, noting that Rise Above has been screened in 36 of 50 states. It is becoming a global program, reaching into Canada as well, he said.
The Commemorative Air Force Gulf Coast Wing, Dixie Wing, and Red Tail Squadron are at the show April 5 through 10 in Lakeland, Florida, along with the B–17 Texas Raiders. On April 7, Tuskegee Airman pilot Col. George Hardy will present awards to four high school students who have exhibited the six guiding principles of the Red Tail Squadron: aim high, believe in yourself, use your brain, be ready to go, never quit, and expect to win.
The Commemorative Air Force has more than 12,000 members and owns 165 historic aircraft, including 143 operational aircraft, the largest fleet of military aircraft in the world.