Mobile exhibit teaches visitors history of Tuskegee Airmen

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – A unique, mobile exhibit has rolled into Bowling Green for the next couple of days.

“It’s a special opportunity to have this in our community at no cost,” said Joe Tinius, board president for Aviation Heritage Park.

The Rise Above Tuskegee Airmen Traveling Exhibit has parked itself in the Greenwood Mall parking lot near JCPenney.

Thanks in large part to a $10,000 grant given to Aviation Heritage Park by PPG Industries, the park was able to bring the traveling exhibit to town and offer free admission to any visitors.

The grant also helped fund a two-day summer camp this week.

“Without the support of PPG, I’m not really sure we would be able to afford to have this exhibit here this year,” added Tinius.

The exhibit is housed in a customized, 53-foot trailer that features a 160-degree movie screen inside.

The mobile movie theater plays a film about the background of the Tuskegee Airmen, offering visitors a history lesson on this important group of pilots from World War II.

“As fighter pilots flying the high performance P-51 aircraft, they protected American bombers as they engaged in bombing runs throughout Europe against the Germans in World War II,” said Dr. John Hardin, chair of the board of directors for the Bowling Green African American Museum.

While illustrating the hardships and issues that these men faced during their years of service, Rise Above also educates visitors about the group’s six guiding principles – Aim High, Believe In Yourself, Use Your Brain, Be Ready To Go, Never Quit, and Expect To Win.

“They came up with them because they had to fight because they knew they had no other option,” Hardin said. “They had to fight. They had to protect each other. They had to protect the crews. They had to accomplish the mission.”

Unfortunately for these pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen served during a time period when segregation and discrimination towards African Americans and people of color was still an issue in the United States.

“For them to meet that challenge, not only to serve, but the challenges to become airmen at that particular time is something we all need to understand a appreciate,” said Tinius.

An exhibit like this serves as a reminder to people of the sacrifices these men made for our country, one that didn’t appreciate their service during that time.

“The one thing you can take away from it is don’t assume that the color of one’s skin excludes you from being capable of doing anything,” said Hardin.

The Rise Above exhibit will be on display at the following times:

  • Wednesday, June 12: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 13: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Friday, June 14: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The exhibit is free to all guests and will also be on display at the annual Aviation Heritage Park Hangar Party on Saturday, June 15, from 5 to 10 p.m.