SHORT TAKES : Lucas Looks at Tuskegee Airmen

From Times Wire Services

George Lucas, creator of the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" movie series, is planning a film about the Tuskegee Airmen, the famed all-black World War II fighter squadron.

The story of "Red Tails," named for the red paint found on the squadron's planes, will be the first in a long-term deal Lucas plans to cut with a studio yet to be determined.

"I'm sure to encounter resistance," he said. "But I'm one of the few people who can get this film made. I see the movie less as a race picture than as an aerial action-adventure. 'Top Gun' proved there's an audience for that."

The Tuskegee Airmen, formed from a select group of 926 blacks trained at Alabama's Tuskegee Army Flying School, was created after the Army Air Corps was ordered by Congress to lift a color ban in 1940.

The squadron flew 1,578 support missions from bases in North Africa and Europe without losing a single bomber to enemy fire.

"Red Tails" also will focus on the pilots' lives once they returned to civilian life, only to face continued racism and segregation, screenwriter Kevin Sullivan said.

"Overnight, they went from heroes to second-class citizens," Sullivan said. "It's a story that somehow got lost in our history," he said.

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