Jeff Sondles, Dr. Harold Brown, and Vernon Roen at last years Rise Above Traveling Exhibit
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron and the Rise Above Traveling Exhibit are coming to the Liberty Aviation Museum (LAM) at the Erie-Ottawa International Airport in Port Clinton May 13-17. The Rise Above exhibit tells the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen to young people all across American in an experiential way. “We are truly pleased to be hosting this fine event for the third year, and for the first time during an active school year,” said LAM President and CEO Edward Patrick.
School children from Erie and Ottawa counties will have the opportunity to witness the inspirational documentary Rise Above and its story of how the Tuskegee Airmen overcame obstacles to be allowed to train and fight as U.S. Army Air Corp pilots. More than 10,000 other African-American men and women also trained hard to support these pilots. The courage and determination they exhibited then still means much to all Americans today. The movie also gives viewers a feel for what it’s like to be a pilot in a P51 Mustang.
Joining the exhibit will be local Tuskegee pilot Lt. Col. (Ret.) Harold H. Brown and a restored flying P-51C Mustang “Red Tail”. Harold will be on hand each day to meet with the school children and other visitors to talk about his experiences during those historic times.
“People think they have it tough now,” stated museum volunteer H. Havey Lembeck. “These guys had to fight two wars--the first, to win the right to fly and fight for their country; and the second, against the Nazi Fascists.”
The goal of the CAF Red Tail Squadron Rise Above exhibit is to teach the six guiding principles of the Tuskegee Airmen. Every youngster or school student who visits the exhibit and watches the Rise Above movie is given a free dog tag with these principles inscribed on it: “Aim high. Believe in yourself. Never quit. Be ready to go. Use your brain. Expect to win.”
Erie-Ottawa International Airport Director Stan Gebhardt points out, “This venue is fortunate to be able to host both the Traveling Exhibit and the famous and rare P-51Mustang Red Tail at the same time. While the Traveling Exhibit can visit schools or community centers, you typically cannot bring in the real aircraft these guys flew, set it down along side of the exhibit, let guests see this amazing piece of history and see it take off and land.”
In addition, the Yankee Air Museum’s (YAM) B-17G Flying Fortress, The Yankee Lady, is scheduled to visit the exhibit on May 14 and 15. “Once we land, The Yankee Lady will be available for tours,” said Dave Wright, Director of the YAM FLEX program. Wright said ground tours cost $5 for adults aged 15 and above; $2 for kids aged 6 to 15. A ride is a 45 minute experience with approximately 30 minutes of flight and costs $450.
In addition, YAM is offering free rides to WWII Veterans sharing the ride with a paying friend or relative, an opportunity to honor a relative or friend and to give them a different kind of Honor Flight. Some conditions do apply. To order a B-17 FLEX ride or to obtain a gift certificate, call Dave Wright at 734.483.4030, extension 236. Donations can be partially tax deductible within the limits of the law and will directly support the B-17.