The Tuskegee Airmen Hit the Big Screen
Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site honors the first African American military pilots and their support crews. Through a large design-build interpretive media project, Harpers Ferry Center contracted with Pacific Studios and Aperture Films, Ltd. to develop the park movie entitled The Tuskegee Airmen: Sacrifice and Triumph.
In an immersive three-screen presentation, interviews and reenactments combine with archival footage and cutting-edge computer-generated aerial combat scenes to tell the exciting and inspiring story of these brave flyers and their crews. Filmmakers conducted more than fifty interviews, mostly with original Tuskegee Airmen. Pivotal scenes were reenacted using a cadre of talent from the Los Angeles area and a wide variety of functioning World War II aircraft from two air museums in Chino, California. HFC and park staff referenced primary sources to ensure historical accuracy during the shoot and throughout the 2 1/2 year production schedule. Narrated by Emmy-winning actor Keith David, the 28-minute film screens hourly in a dedicated high-definition theater equipped with a 35-foot wide three-screen array, 5.1 surround sound, open captions, audio description, and assistive listening technology. The film received a prestigious 2013 CINE Golden Eagle Award, a 2014 WorldFest Houston Special Jury Award, and first place in the long film category of the 2014 National Association for Interpretation Media Awards.
Watch the Video
As visitors exit the theater after watching the movie, they encounter a full-size model P-51 Mustang aircraft hanging from the ceiling in the exhibit gallery. Four additional mini-theaters within the exhibition feature touchscreen interactive stations where visitors can explore nearly two hours' worth of interviews and archival footage chronicling the Tuskegee Airmen's training and combat experiences, homecoming, and legacy.
The interpretive media project was primarily funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.