George Lucas’ new movie ‘Red Tails’ salutes Tuskegee Airmen

January 5, 2012


George Lucas’ ‘Red Tails’ salutes Tuskegee Airmen

By Marco R. della Cava

NICASIO, Calif. – George Lucas is many imposing things. Billionaire lord of a sci-fi empire. Passionate early-education philanthropist. Northern California land baron.

But drill down to his core and Lucas is still the same fiercely independent kid from rural Modesto who grew up enamored of fast machines and great movies.

Those simple roots help explain what otherwise might seem like a puzzling cinematic move: why a 67-year-old white guy has spent $58 million of his own money to produce Red Tails, out Jan. 20, an action-adventure film about World War II African-American aviators known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

“For those of us in my group of filmmakers, like Steven (Spielberg) or Ron (Howard) or Marty (Scorsese), we want to make movies that enthralled us when we were little,” Lucas says as the sun ignites an expansive Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired office at Big Rock Ranch, part of his 6,000-acre retreat north of San Francisco.

“For me, Red Tails is like Flying Leathernecks,” he says, the 1951 John Wayne charge through Guadalcanal. “It’s corny. It’s über-patriotic. And it’s a really exciting action-adventure movie. As for the racism in our story, it’s embedded in the material, so we just had to be careful not to overdo it.”

Tuskegee Army Air Field/Sharpe Field and Moton Field
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Tuskegee Airmen
Tuskegee Army Air Field/Sharpe Field
All primary/advanced/operational flight training of the Tuskegee Airmen was done at Tuskegee Army Air Field/Sharpe Field took place at Sharpe Field. The last advanced pilot training class graduated in 1946 and for a while Sharpe Field remained open as a civilian airport before closing around 1970-71.

Moton Field
Moton Field was where basic flight training was done and is located 5.8 NM Southeast of TAAF/Sharpe Field.
Tuskegee Airmen reunions are held at Moton Field.

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October 28, 1935
Fredrick D. Patterson takes office as Tuskegee’s 3rd President
Tuskegee will remain a technical and agricultural institution

April 11, 1941
Tuskegee Board of Trustees appropriates money for the purchase
and development of airfield to train pilots

July 26, 1941
Tuskegee moves aggressively to train pilots and developed airports that
will become military bases for the Tuskegee Airmen

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August 30, 1941
Tuskegee will have African Americans build
Tuskegee Army Airfield (Sharpe Field) for the Tuskegee Airmen

September 5, 1941
Tuskegee Institute will lease land for the construct houses for Tuskegee Airmen families

September 5, 1941
Tuskegee Institute and the Tuskegee Airmen

December 27, 1941
Tuskegee Institute and the Tuskegee Airmen and the British

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