A significant chapter of aviation and U.S. history — and a living legend — will be appearing at Fort Lauderdale Executive airport this week.
The Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron’s “Rise Above” Traveling Exhibit opened Wednesday and will be on display through Sunday to showcase the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, also known as the Red Tails for the distinctive red-tailed P-51 Mustang aircraft they flew during World War II.
The free exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily at the airport at 2020 Executive Airport Way in Fort Lauderdale.
Among other things, the exhibit features a movie theater with a 160-degree panoramic screen housed inside an air-conditioned 53-foot semi trailer with expandable sides and equipped with a ramp and hydraulic lift for wheelchair users.
The movie helps audiences experience what it was like to be among America’s first black military pilots, and their support personnel, as they worked toward their goal of becoming U.S. Army Air Corps pilots in the early 1940s.
After the movie, audiences can take a virtual flight in the cockpit of a P-51 Mustang, the iconic aircraft of the Tuskegee Airmen.
A fully operational, twice-restored Red Tail P-51C Mustang is also on display as part of the exhibit. The aircraft is one of only four like it that are still flying, organizers said.
Retired Tuskegee Airmen pilot Lt. Col. George E. Hardy will be on site Thursday and Friday. He’ll be speaking about his experiences as a Tuskegee Airman at 11 a.m. on Saturday, during the executive airport’s annual Aviation Safety Expo.
Now in his mid-90s, Hardy is the youngest of the 13 known living Red Tail combat pilots.