Hollywood meets history
While in Tuskegee, several of the actors were taken to tour the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site and given a personal glimpse into the history they portrayed in the film. National Park Service rangers gave personalized tours of the university’s campus and the restored Hangar No. 1 at Moton Field, the facility where the airmen were trained.
“It’s surreal. So much of our research into “Red Tails” centered at this place … a brilliant way to end that journey,” Oyelowo said about visiting the site after making the film.
Before its closure in 1946, Moton Field had two aircraft hangers, a control tower and several buildings for administration and maintenance. Hangar No. 1 was restored in 2008 and now houses a museum, replicas of vintage planes, a war room and interactive information displays about the Tuskegee Airmen.
“It’s beautiful … looks like it was made today,” Parker said when he entered the hangar.
During their visit, Kelley and Wilds recognized the vintage parachute rigging hanging from the ceiling of the hangar and got a lesson about what the real airmen experienced. The parachutes brought back memories of being on the set with the heavy and cumbersome packs hanging from their backs and hitting them in the legs as they walked.
“The airmen would actually get bruises on the backs of their legs from those,” explained Deanna Mitchell, the site manager.
Several Tuskegee Airmen such as Col. Herbert Carter, Booker Conley and Wilbur Mason were present throughout the premiere weekend. They shared stories of their experiences and met with the film’s cast. Kelley said the heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen has always been very close to him.
“It’s like paying tribute to some grandfathers,” said about visiting the historic site and meeting the real airmen.
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