July 30, 2014

Tuskegee Airmen exhibit lands at the Mason City airport

North-central Iowans are getting a chance this weekend to learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War Two. Doug Rozendaal of Clear Lake, with the Red Tail Squadron, says the exhibit teaches people about America’s first black military pilots, what they had to endure and what they accomplished.

The exhibit includes a 1940s-era fighter plane, known as a Mustang. They have a P51C that’s decorated to honor the airmen as part of their tour throughout the country to tell people the story about the Tuskegee Airmen. He says they tell the story of how the airmen “overcame adversity to fly and fight for a country that didn’t want their service.”

The project is an arm of the Commemorative Air Force. Rozendaal says the exhibit includes a 30-minute film showcasing the efforts of the Tuskegee Airmen. He says inside the theater is a 180-degree panoramic screen that’s 50 feet long and seven feet tall, saying it “puts you right in the middle of the action” that shows how the airmen overcame adversity in their own lives.

Rozendaal says the story of the airmen showed there was still a racial divide during World War Two with the government trying to segregate them from the rest of the Air Corps. He says about 10,000 men went to Tuskegee in an experiment that was supposed to prove that black men didn’t have the coordination to fly, which obviously was proven not to be true as their service was exemplary.

He says the Air Force was the first major organization in America to be integrated. He says they wanted to fly and fight, and they were able to achieve their dream and that’s a formula for success that works in life no matter what you want to do. The exhibit will be open until 7:00 PM Friday and from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday at the Mason City Municipal Airport.

(Reporting by, Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)