COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF), located in Midland, TX, preserves the memory of those men and women who built, serviced and flew aircraft during World War II through hosting airshows nation-wide. Visitors will see 14-20 aircraft on display in the hangar, and many other aircraft are displayed outside. The variety of aircraft change quarterly, so there are always new aircraft to see.
CAF Headquarters is also the home of the internationally recognized American Airpower Heritage Museum. The Airpower Museum is the educational affiliate of the CAF, aspiring to keep people free by telling stories of airpower through the preservation of a vast collection of 80,000+ objects, educational programs and exhibits. The Airpower Museum is nationally accredited by the American Association of Museums. Of nearly 8,500 museums nationwide, only about 10% of those are nationally accredited. Permanent exhibits at the museum include the story of American Airpower for the WWII period, The Bush Mission exhibit, and The Dynamics of Flight Discovery Center.
The Airpower Museum also preserves the largest collection of Aviation Nose Art in any museum today, all 34 panels housed in a special gallery designed specifically for their preservation and display. Affectionately dubbed “The Girls,” this unique expression of American Folk Art was designated an official project of “Save America’s Treasures” in 1999, sponsored by the White House Millennium Council and the National Trust of Historic Preservation. Also unique to the Airpower Museum is the largest collection of WWII Sketches by Peter Hurd. Though commonly known today for his southwest landscapes, Hurd began as a journalist for LIFE magazine during WWII.
The museum maintains an active Oral History Program, with more than 4,100 interviews currently on file. This extensive reference collection of first-hand accounts of World War II have been captured on tape by numerous volunteers and is available to students of all ages upon request.
Each year, approximately 5,000 students from 24 school districts in Texas and New Mexico, visit the Airpower Museum for educational programs like guided tours, seminars and Aviation Boot Camp. The museum also provides a traveling trunk kit called the Footlocker Program for educators who are not able to make the trip. Both the Aviation Boot Camp and the Footlocker program are unique outreach programs that have received awards for excellence in education by the Texas Historical Commission.
The Airpower Museum of the CAF opened its doors in December, 1991, and hosts approximately 45,000 visitors each year. The museum is a distinct and self-sufficient 501(c)(3) organization, earning 100 percent of its income through admission fees, memberships, rentals, grants and other unsolicited gifts. The museum continues to unveil capital improvements each year in conjunction with the annual CAF AIRSHO.
The hard work of its staff and volunteers is vital to the success of the CAF and Airpower Museum. To be part of this spirit of teamwork and camaraderie, or for information, call the museum at (432) 567-3009.
The Houston Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (formerly the West Houston Squadron) was formed in 1981 and is based at West Houston Airport in Houston, Texas. The Wing operates and maintains five aircraft assigned to the unit by the CAF - a North American AT-6 advanced trainer, a Consolidated-Vultee BT-13 basic trainer, a Naval Aircraft Factory N3N primary trainer, a PT-19 Fairchild primary trainer, and a Lockheed C-60A paratroop transport, and is restoring an L-17 Navion. The Wings's Hangar B-5 at West Houston Airport serves as "home base" for these aircraft, features a growing World War II museum, and hosts several activities each year, including public Open House events, educational tours for youth groups, veterans' associations meetings and social events for a variety of professional and nonprofit organizations.
An ongoing activity of the Houston Wing is the "America Trains for War" educational program. In this program, HW aircraft and members visit area communities to educate elementary and middle school children about the role training aircraft, their manufacturers and instructor pilots played in World War II, helping to turn an essentially unprepared United States into the most dominating air power in the war.
Wing members also participate in the Smithsonian-sponsored Veteran's History Project,where veterans of World War II tell of their service and experiences in video interviews. This effort preserves their stories, in their own words, for future generations. For more information, visit the Houston Wing website at www.houstonwing.org.
GULF COAST WING
The Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, based at David Wayne Hooks Airport, Houston, Texas, is proud to be the home of the B-17G Texas Raiders and the nationally known airshow performers, “Tora, Tora, Tora”.
Through its many airshow appearances around the country, the “Tora” Group presents a history lesson through a realistic re-creation of the December 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor to thousands of airshow fans each year. Flying replica Japanese fighters and bombers through the smoke and fire of their pyrotechnic display, the Tora pilots bring history alive in a way that no other group can.
The Gulf Coast Wing also flies and maintains one the few operational B-17G Flying Fortresses known as “Texas Raiders”. Over the last several years, the Gulf Coast Wing has worked to comply with the requirements of an FAA Airworthiness Directive regarding the wing structure of our B-17G. After many, many dedicated hours by volunteers, our B-17G is back in the air!
To learn more about this project or becoming a member of our group, please visit one of the Gulf Coast Wing PX’s during the airshow or visit our website www.gulfcoastwing.org.
TEXAS FLYING LEGENDS MUSEUM
The Texas Flying Legends Museum is based out of Ellington Airport in Houston and flies their growing collection from Texas to Minot, North Dakota each spring, to Wiscasset, Maine each summer, and back to Texas in the fall. Their mission is to acquire the best flying WWII aircraft available today and campaign these Flying Legends with a sense of inspiration for those who are not aware or involved in the great history of the United States, and most importantly, honor the many that are.
Their collection includes beautiful examples of the A6-M2 Zero, B-25J Mitchell Bomber, two P-51D Mustangs, P-40 Warhawk, and F4U Corsair. Texas Flying Legends Museum will participate with both flying and static displays during the Airshow.