Honoring the Legacy of Military Aviation: An Introduction to the Commemorative Air Force (CAF)

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1957 to preserve and commemorate the history of military aviation. It is one of the largest private air forces in the world, with more than 200 aircraft in its fleet. The CAF also serves as a living history museum and educational resource to promote public understanding of the importance of military aviation.

The Commemorative Air Force was founded by four World War II veterans in Midland, Texas. They purchased a single P-51 Mustang and began a mission to restore and preserve the aircraft of the era. The CAF soon began to acquire more aircraft, and the organization grew rapidly. By the end of the 1960s, the CAF had established units in more than 30 states.

The CAF operates a large fleet of vintage aircraft from World War II and the Korean War. The aircraft include fighters, bombers, trainers, transports, and utility aircraft. The most notable aircraft in the CAF fleet are the B-29 Superfortress, B-24 Liberator, B-17 Flying Fortress, P-51 Mustang, P-40 Warhawk, F4U Corsair, and SBD Dauntless. The CAF also operates several replicas of aircraft from the era, such as the F-82 Twin Mustang and P-63 Kingcobra.

The CAF has achieved a number of important milestones over the years. In 1970, the organization was granted status as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which enabled it to acquire aircraft and other assets tax-free. In 1975, the CAF acquired its first B-29 Superfortress, which was named “Fifi” after one of the founders’ wives. In 1992, the CAF established the Texas Wing, which operates a number of aircraft in the CAF fleet. In 2007, the CAF opened the American Airpower Heritage Museum in Midland, Texas, which houses many of the CAF’s aircraft and artifacts.

Since its founding, the CAF has evolved in many ways. It has expanded its fleet to include more than 200 aircraft, which are based at units across the United States. The CAF also operates a number of air shows and educational programs that promote the history and importance of military aviation. The organization also provides support to veterans and their families through its Operation Honor program.

The CAF has been involved in a few incidents over the years. In 2003, a CAF B-25 Mitchell crashed in California during an air show, killing the pilot and three passengers. The crash was attributed to pilot error and the CAF was cleared of any wrongdoing. In 2012, the CAF was involved in a federal investigation related to the sale of two vintage aircraft. The investigation was concluded in 2013, with the CAF agreeing to pay a fine of $50,000 and to make changes to its internal procedures.

The Commemorative Air Force is an important part of aviation history. Its mission to preserve and commemorate the history of military aviation has helped to educate the public about the importance of aviation in modern society. The CAF’s fleet of aircraft, educational programs, and support for veterans are a testament to its commitment to honoring the legacy of military aviation.