The Red Tail Project is a group of men and women who honored the Airmen by touring air shows with a restored P-51C Mustang, the famous roaring fighter plane flown in WWII combat. Their goal was to make the Tuskegee Airmen a household name, but like the men they honored, the Red Tail Project also faced adversity. In 2004 their flying homage to the Airmen crashed, killing pilot and project leader Don Hinz.
Red Tail Reborn, narrated by Michael Dorn, is a tale of inspiration. Historic interviews, unprecedented access, and emotional honesty bring to light the tale of the Airmen, and of those who honor them. The Tuskegee Airmen showed the world what hope, determination and hard work could do, and the Red Tail Project took those lessons to heart as they recovered from a lost aircraft and a lost friend.
For most of my life I have never had a driving desire to do a documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen. I reiterate: most of my life. That changed a few years ago, due in no small measure to the efforts of Don Hinz and the Red Tail Project.In 2002 I was busy filming my first documentary, The Restorers. While filming a story about a B-17G bomber, a red tailed P-51C Mustang landed, making a fuel stop while traveling cross-country. It was my great pleasure at that time to meet her pilot, Doug Rozendaal, and begin the journey.
Two years later, I was told that Mustang had crashed, killing pilot Don Hinz. While I had never had the pleasure of meeting Don, his passion for the project had already infected me. I knew I had to “do something” with this story.
Having just done a movie about aircraft restoration, I naturally started prepping Red Tail Reborn as an aircraft restoration story, concentrating on the P-51C. As I dug into it though, much more revealed itself to me. Being interested in aviation and history, I knew about the Tuskegee Airmen, but only in a marginal way. I really never knew the details. The more I learned, the more I realized how much of this story needed to be told.One of the local PBS stations agreed to broadcast the film after completion; that was the first step down the long road. I felt the next was for me to shore up on my Airmen knowledge. I went to four different big-box book stores, looking for any books about the Airmen. I couldn’t find one book. Not one. The real shocker was that I couldn’t find a book about the Airmen and it was February – Black History Month.
It is true that some books and films have been made about the Tuskegee Airmen, but the work is not finished. Not by a long shot. While it is my hope that Red Tail Reborn will be embraced by the warbird and airshow faithful, I’m looking for a broader audience. It is my hope that Red Tail Reborn will find its way to the general public – to the masses that do not know about the Airmen from Tuskegee. I wish to help the process that the Red Tail Project and Don Hinz set in motion: to bring to everyone the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, and of those who sacrifice to tell their tale.