The George Lucas film, Red Tails, about Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen premieres in theaters across the U.S. January 20, 2012. The movie is the brain child of Lucas who has been developing the story for nearly 25 years. Red Tails is a high-flying action epic about the first African American combat pilots in the Tuskegee training program whose abilities were called into question as a result of segregation. The airmen were mostly untested, but proved themselves during WWII combat missions in Sicily and Italy. They also escorted bombers across Europe. Their nickname “red tails” stems from the paint that they applied to the tails of their planes.
The storyline follows the lives of the 332nd Fighter Group who are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard played by Oscar nominee Terrence Howard. Howard’s character is loosely based on Tuskegee Airmen commander Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. Davis became the first African American general in the U.S. Air Force. The movie also stars Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. as Major Emanuelle Stance and Theo James plays an intelligence officer. Lucas is the executive producer and Anthony Hemingway directed the action drama. The co-executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson is a native of Camden, Alabama.
“They were only in their early 20s when they performed these amazing feats,” Lucas said. “They became the best of the best- the top guns. It is an honor to bring to the screen a story inspired by their heroics.” When asked about the movie Gooding told an Inquirer reporter, “This is the black answer to Avatar,” he says, promising the film is chock-full of the most sophisticated and breathtaking effects this side of James Cameron’s box-office hit. Although none of the scenes were filmed in Alabama, the shoot took place in Prague over 13 weeks. The story follows lives of the 332d Fighter Group, which saw action in Sicily and Italy and also escorted bombers across Europe. The group acquired the nickname “red tails” for the paint they applied to the tails of their planes.
“Once moviegoers see the film, we are hoping they will come to Alabama to visit the actual site of the Tuskegee Airmen at Moton Field,” said tourism director Lee Sentell. “Visitors can see a real planes used by the airmen during WWII and they can experience the real history,” added Sentell. Moton Field opened in 1941 and was the training base for the Tuskegee Airmen. Today visitors can tour the Hangar One Museum at Moton Field for free. The hangar houses WWII-era training planes and interactive displays that tell the story of the airmen. For more information about the movie, Red Tails, visit www.redtailsfilm.com. For more information on the museum and other Tuskegee attractions visit www.alabama.travel.