Adam White’s documentary was born of a chance encounter and a tragic accident. It is three interlocking tales tied together by a refurbished P-51C Mustang and the memory of World War II’s nearly forgotten black fighter pilots.
The story is anchored by Don Hinz, an aviator who often piloted a Mustang that served as a flying tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen — part of an educational initiative dubbed the Red Tail Project. He died in May 2004 when his iconic plane crashed near Bay City, Wisc.
“After I got to know the [Red Tail Project] guys, after I learned about the crash, I wanted to do a film about them,” White says.
The resulting two and a half years of work became “Red Tail Reborn.” More than 40,000 viewers saw White’s 56-minute documentary during its premiere last February on Canton’s WNEO PBS 45/49.
This month, PBS is offering the film to 170 affiliate stations. White didn’t know at press time how many planned to air “Red Tail Reborn” during February, but noted all stations can show the film any time in the next two years.
“Not all of the PBS stations have to air ‘Nova’ or any of their staples,” he explains. “So, we’ve been contacting them and sending out promotional information to the stations so this doesn’t breeze by unnoticed.”
Though he’s still in the middle of promoting “Red Tail Reborn,” White is already contemplating a “much wider and larger” documentary about unmanned space exploration. And there’s still a chapter of the Red Tail Project to be written.
“[Hinz’s] Mustang is going to fly in 2009,” White says. “We’re going to go back up to North Dakota and film when that plane flies again."
PBS 45/49 will air “Red Tail Reborn” Feb. 4 at 10 p.m. To learn when other PBS stations will air the film, visit www.redtailreborn.com.