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 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.