Commemorative Air Force Announces Interactive Theater Honoring Tuskegee Airmen
March 22, 2021 (DALLAS) – The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) – the world’s largest flying museum – is nearing completion of a major education center at Dallas Executive Airport. The Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center is a 47,000 square foot facility that comprises a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Innovation Hangar, workshops, classrooms, and display atrium and Gallery for a selection of the CAF's collection of World War II artifacts.
This week, the CAF announced plans to incorporate the Brig. Gen. Charles McGee and Don Hinz Theater as part of the Education Center. The theater is generously supported by the CAF Red Tail Sponsor Group, an affiliate of the CAF which is committed to educational outreach programs that use the inspirational story of the Tuskegee Airmen as a guide for strength of character and an inspiration to triumph over adversity.
The theater will feature two compelling original short films. One tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. The other shares the story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), America’s first female military pilots. Both groups overcame obstacles to be able to serve their country during World War II.
“We are very fortunate to be in the position to fund this theater in Dallas,” said Doug Rozendaal, leader of the Red Tail Squadron. “To pay tribute to Charles McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, and Don Hinz, our group’s founder, in this way is tremendous. We are certain that thousands, if not millions, of people who come through the theater will be touched by these real stories of heroes. Our hope is that people who view these films will be emboldened to reach their own goals, and possibly ignite an interest in flying.”
The theater is named after two important figures in the CAF Rise Above: Red Tail experience. Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, 101, is one of the last living members of the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. He is a distinguished three-war veteran who performed 409 combat missions and held many prominent roles in military leadership. His life experience has served as an inspiration to countless people of all ages, races, and abilities. "It's sure heartwarming to be named with Don Hinz as we shared the same love of aviation," said McGee.
The second honoree, Don Hinz, was a U.S. Naval Commander and P-51 pilot, and the visionary behind the CAF RISE ABOVE project. He believed an iconic aircraft like the P-51 Red Tail Mustang could be used to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to educate and inspire young people. After Hinz’s untimely death in 2004, his vision grew exponentially with the creation of the RISE ABOVE exhibit. The program was a catalyst of change for the entire organization. As the result of Hinz’s influence, the CAF expanded its focus from restoring and flying warbirds to one that understands the value of using aircraft to not only teach World War II history, but also to inspire others to draw on those experiences to overcome challenges they face in their own lives.
The Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center will begin offering educational programs this June and plans to hold a grand opening for the public, which will include opening exhibits, this fall. The theater will become a major component to the museum section of the Education Center which will also house selected pieces of the Nose Art Collection as well as rotating artifacts from the CAF’s collection. The Education Center will also host a fleet of programs to develop 21st century job skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, citizenship. Examples of programming offered include summer aerospace camps, High School Career Technical Education (CTE) programs and team building opportunities for the business community.
About the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center The Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center (NAEC), located at the Dallas Executive Airport, provides hands-on learning opportunities and activities for all ages. Our mission is to Honor the Past, Empower the Future. Visit us to be inspired by aviation and history while developing leadership and 21st century job skills. No matter the career, strong skills in communication, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and citizenship will help individuals of all ages be more successful. To learn more visit www.flynaec.com.
The NAEC is the flagship of the American Airpower Heritage Museum (AAHM), an affiliate of the Commemorative Air Force.
About the Commemorative Air Force Founded in 1957, the Commemorative Air Force has amassed more than 170 World War II aircraft – the largest collection of vintage military warbirds in the world. Through the work of more than 11,000 volunteers across 83 units, the CAF’s educational outreach programs reach an estimated 20 million Americans each year, providing unique, compelling hands-on access to history.
For more information about the Commemorative Air Force, visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.