Retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel and Tuskegee Airman Dr. Harold Brown will host the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit at the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, Ohio May 14-17. The museum is located at 3515 East State Rd. in Port Clinton and offers a spectacular setting, with an airstrip separating the museum from the Carl R Keller Field Airport (KPCW).
Several aircraft will be on static display for those who would like to get an up-close look at the warbirds that defended our nation in WWII, including a B-17 bomber and the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C Mustang.
This year marks the fourth time Dr. Harold Brown and his wife Dr. Marsha Bordner have brought the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit to Port Clinton. Each year the event has been a success, attracting thousands of spectators, including numerous school and youth groups.
“The idea behind re-building the P-51 and creating the exhibit was to provide vehicles – by air and by ground – to reach the maximum number of people,” said Harold. “We want to motivate young people to aspire to bigger things in their life. That’s been our primary purpose.”
This year’s event focuses on 5th and 6th grade youth in 5 school districts. The exhibit will be reserved Wednesday May 14 through Friday May 16 for school and youth groups only. “We’re looking forward to these days targeted towards young people,” said Harold. “It’s another step toward what Don Hines wanted to do.”
Don Hinz, who passed away in 2004, was one of the founding members of the CAF Red Tail Squadron, originally known as the Red Tail Project. His vision to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen through the use of the P-51C Mustang and an exhibit is the driving force behind the group’s continued educational outreach programs.
And Harold knows a thing or two about education himself. Holding a PhD, Dr. Brown pursued a career in education after his military service, retiring from Columbus State Community College as Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Community and educational outreach is the lynchpin of the CAF Red Tail Squadron. It’s the motivation behind what turned a heap of scrap into the beautiful aircraft that wows the hearts and minds of audiences all over the country.
Harold remembers the first time he saw the plane, and heard about Don’s vision. “In 1997 I was invited to the CAF Minnesota Wing with 4 other Tuskegee Airmen to hear about the project,” recalls Harold. “I saw five piles of junk, remnants of a P-51 cut to pieces. The next time I saw it, the aircraft was fully-restored, thanks to the efforts of Don Hines.”
Harold took the first passenger flight in the restored aircraft, kicking off a new way to share the story of the Tuskegee Airmen. The mission to inspire youth to triumph over his or her own obstacles is a part of each and every event the CAF Red Tail Squadron participates in.
“If we don’t get these kids early, we’ll loose them,” said Harold. “If we don’t encourage and motivate them, we will lose a vast number of them and that is what this effort is all about. Help kids stay in school. Aspire to do what they want to do. Have a higher success rate that what we have presently.”
The event in Port Clinton aims to do just that. And Marsha recalls particularly touching moments from past events in Port Clinton. “There are hundreds of people that wait in line to meet Harold and get his autograph,” she said. “Hour after hour, people share their stories, tearing up. Bomber pilots, or children and grandchildren of bomber pilots, remember the Red Tails that guarded them. They share their stories that are part of their family lore. It’s just an amazing thing to see the legacy it has become.”
Join us at this special event this week and be inspired to RISE ABOVE. General admission to the exhibit for the public will be open Saturday May 17 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Visit our calendar for more information. See you there!