NASA Langley Salutes Local Tuskegee Airmen at Movie Premiere
By: Kathy Barnstorff
Four of the original African-American World War II Tuskegee Airmen are expected to attend the opening of the new George Lucas feature film, "Red Tails," at a local movie theatre this Friday, Jan. 20.
NASA's Langley Research Center has partnered with the Tidewater Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., the city of Hampton, Hampton University, the Virginia Air & Space Center and Cobb CineBistro to recognize the accomplishments of the famed aviators and other African Americans in a series of events through February's Black History Month.
"Red Tails," starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard, is inspired by the story of the Tuskegee Airmen and the struggles they faced as America's first all black aerial combat unit. The name of the movie comes from the distinctive red paint job on the aircraft the aviators flew.
On the opening day of the movie at CineBistro in Hampton's Peninsula Town Center, NASA Langley will highlight the role local research played in improving aircraft flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, including the P-51 Mustang. A number of versions of the P-51 and many other World War II aircraft were tested in NASA Langley laboratories and wind tunnels.
The morning of Jan. 20 local students have been invited to see the film and talk with the four Hampton Roads Tuskegee Airmen, now in their 80s and 90s. Later that night the airmen will also be available to meet the public and sign autographs at the film's official opening.
Along with saluting the Tuskegee Airmen at the movie opening NASA Langley will honor African-American achievements in a number of ways. NASA's Digital Learning Network, a system that connects schools with educational content live over the Internet, will feature one of the four local airmen each week in February. Students from across the country will be able to talk with the aviation pioneers from the comfort of their classrooms.
NASA Langley will team up with the airmen again, on Feb. 11, at a special Black History Month event at the Virginia Air & Space Center. NASA Langley will celebrate the accomplishments of African-American aerospace pioneers, concentrating on the science of flight and how it relates to speed and auto racing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Featured at the event will be two-time space shuttle astronaut Benjamin Drew, members of the Tuskegee Airmen, an Air Force pilot, and hands-on "Rockets 2 Racecars" activities, exhibits and programs for children.
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