Peninsula residents were treated to an experience Saturday that showed a storied piece of American history.
The Wings and Wheels Show marked the Northwest debut of Rise Above. Presented by the Commemorative Air Force Red Tail Squadron, Rise Above is a film exhibit that tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the nation’s first black military pilots and crews.
The title, Rise Above, embodies the message of the film. A young student who wants to be an astronaut meets a veteran airman who tells him that with hard work he can be anything he sets his mind to. While it often travels to schools, the film aims to inspire young and old alike.
“We thought it would be nice to show the inspiration and the history with the people up here,” Jeanette Hollis said.
Hollis and her husband, Terry, pull the trailer that contains the movie screen. They are based out of Mississippi, but are on the travel circuit from February until Thanksgiving.
The screen is housed in a specially made 53-foot semitrailer. The sides expand to reveal an air-conditioned, fully functional theater.
After the show, viewers get to see a P-51C Mustang fighter up close and personal. Painted with the trademark red tail, the plane is there to show that the things in the film are very real and continue to inspire people today.
The idea for the project began over a decade ago, but abruptly stopped when Dan Hinz, the pilot and advocate for the exhibit, was tragically killed in a plane crash.
The plane he was in was the rebuilt P-51C exhibit plane. The Rise Above project had to rebuild the plane and heal from a heavy loss. The restoration took five years to complete.
Members of the CAF Red Tails share in the film that the spirit of the Tuskegee Airmen inspired them as the worked to make Hinz’s dream a reality.
“It’s so important for kids to be inspired at an early age,” Hollis said. “We try to let the kids be inspired inside the trailer.”
The Rise Above film is projected on a 160-degree screen. The style allows for panoramic shots of the planes in the sky as well as side-by-side images and interviews. The film features interviews with members of the Tuskegee Airmen. It shares harsh truth about the history of racism in the United States, but it also shares hope for the future.
The trailer was open by appointment during the air and car show.