On October 17th, the Commemorative Air Force’s P-51C Mustang (42-103645) took to the air again in Bemidji, Minnesota after spending roughly a year at AirCorps Aviation to effect repairs for damage incurred during a runway departure at Tallahassee International Airport on November 4th, 2021. Nicknamed Tuskegee Airmen, the Mustang made a successful first test flight with the CAF Rise Above Squadron’s Doug Rozendaal at the controls; the aircraft performed flawlessly. On the following morning, Rozendaal flew the fighter to John’s 360° Coatings in Raymond, Mississippi so John Mosley’s team could repaint the repaired wing and ‘spruce up’ the rest of the airframe.
Mosley’s crew completed the work in just 10 days! With the paintwork completed, Tuskegee Airmen’s regular pilot, Alan Miller, took the Mustang to Jeffries Airworks in Brandon, Mississippi so that the propeller could undergo rebalancing. The airplane then made a quick stop at CAF Airbase Georgia’s hangar in Peachtree City before Miller flew her up to Windsor Locks, Connecticut for the squadron’s final ‘Rise Above Exhibit’ event at the New England Air Museum. The airplane will now fly to CAF headquarters for the CAF “Wings Over Dallas” air show on November 11, 12, and 13, at Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas.
While this repair took longer than anticipated, due to supply chain issues and labor shortages, the squadron is thrilled to have Tuskegee Airmen back in the air and out on the road again inspiring young people and sharing the stories of how young Americans overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve their dreams 80 years ago during WWII.
Over the winter in Dallas, the squadron will focus upon getting their remaining pilots re-qualified in the airplane in anticipation of the 2023 season, which is looking like another busy one.
CAF RISE ABOVE (formerly known as the CAF Red Tail Squadron) forms the Commemorative Air Force’s three-fold educational outreach program which brings the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) to life in communities and classrooms everywhere. What the Tuskegee Airmen and WASP had in common – and what ultimately led to their success – was their ability to recognize that any obstacles they faced could be overcome with hard work and dedication. These timeless lessons which their service and sacrifice teach us about perseverance and courage are just as applicable today as they were in the 1940s. For more information, please visit www.cafriseabove.org