Movies and flying - two things that go hand-in-hand.
This Fourth of July holiday people can visit the Iowa Falls Municipal Airport and be a part of the CAF Red Tail Squadron, a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen.
The Tuskegee Airmen were the first black military aviators and support crew from World War II with a local connection. Late Iowa Falls native, Joe Gomer, was a former fighter pilot in the Tuskegee Airmen.
In all, there were 992 pilots trained, 450 were sent overseas during the war, 66 were killed in action, 32 were taken as prisoners of war.
“This message is important because it is often left out of history books, although an important piece of American history and the path towards civil rights for all in our country,” said Darcy Castro, who is the marketing person for Red Tail. “Their character and life lessons of the Tuskegee Airmen resonate with young people, and is inspirational for people of all ages, and should not be forgotten.”
According to Jarod Wood, a member of the airport board of authority and the Rise Above Exhibit committee, he first read about the exhibit two years ago and was excited about the local connection with Gomer. He also felt it was important for the youth to learn about history and the traveling exhibit was a way to do that.
“It’s rare to bring an event like this to a small town and the fact that it is totally free is awesome,” Wood said.
Red Tail promotes their inspirational story through the Rise Above Above Traveling Exhibit, which includes a mobile movie theater. The theater plays Rise Above, a documentary that was released in 2011 and is meant as an educational tool on the Tuskegee Airmen through aerial photography and meant to be shown in a mobile theater, with a 170-degree curved screen to feel like you are in the airplane.
It’s much more than just a movie, however. According to its website (redtail.org) the Rise Above exhibit is a greater educational tool. It’s meant to inspire students to rise above their obstacles with the six guiding principles: aim high, believe in yourself, use your brain, be ready to go, never quit and expect to win.
The tour travels all across the country as part of an educational outreach program that also includes an airworthy WWII-era P-51C Mustang fighter aircraft; extensive educational resources for students, teachers, parents and anyone looking to learn more about the Tuskegee Airman and is completely free of charge.
“We hope the community will come see the Rise Above Traveling Exhibit while in Iowa Falls to learn about and be inspired by these American heroes,” said Castro.
Since its inception in 2017, the exhibit has reached 238 events (including airshows, open houses and museums) and has reached 229,730 visitors.
It took over a year of planning and fundraising, but the Rise Above Exhibit will make its Iowa Falls stop Monday, July 2 thru Wednesday July, 4. On Tuesday, there will be an added bonus, the Aviation Youth Rally.
“The Youth Rally is designed to excite kids about aviation in general and inspire them to maybe dream of flying themselves one day,” Wood said. “There will be activities for kids of all ages and even some flight simulators to use as well. Airplane rides will be given for a small fee.”