April 17, 2013
I am writing to tell you about one of the most moving experiences I have ever had – at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. To be honest, until recently, I had no idea that The WWII Museum even existed in that location. Founded by Stephen F. Ambrose, what used to be known as the D Day Museum was designates the National WWII Museum by Congress about 10 years ago. I was invited to come and meet with their staff by CAF Col Dan Fordice. Dan is the Mississippi Wing leader, Mustang owner and ardent proponent of all things WWII; as well as other modern day veteran causes – a very patriotic individual. Autumn Vest (formerly Hicks) and I showed up and was given a tour by Gaston Andre. We only had a couple of hours to breeze through the first 2 buildings, including the US Freedom Pavilion - The Boeing Center. In this building hung a B-17, B-25, TBM, SBD, F4U and Mustang (model). It was amazing to see these massive aircraft “flying” inside this building. I made the comment that I would love to see how they hung these airplanes in this (seemingly) small space. I received an amazing video that I wanted to share with you. Not only is the time-lapsed sequence mesmerizing, but the music and background speech by President Roosevelt sends shivers down your spine. Click on this link and spend 5 minutes immersed in this experience. http://vimeo.com/56887954
Following that we went on to view a PT Boat being totally restored, including the 3 Allison V-12 aircraft engines. I asked the Project manager to what level were they restoring the engines. He exclaimed incredulously, “fully operational”. Great I said, but why? “Because we are putting her in the water and going to tour her.” Wow, a static museum putting their artifacts to operational use – I like their style!
We moved on to their “4D” theater where their movie, BEYOND ALL BOUNDARIES played to a packed house. It is a huge theater with shaking chairs and special effects which conveyed a sense that “you were there”. It was hosted by Tom Hanks and was emotionally moving to the point of overwhelming your senses. Truly a remarkable experience - was the feeling that came to mind as I looked at this “Museum”. I put that word into quotes, because it was not a museum; it was an experience, an attraction, an emotional roller coaster where one was left with a sense of magnitude of that World War.. and a respect for the Greatest Generation that persevered through those times. As immense as my respect already was for the WWII veterans, this embodiment of a Museum doubled my awe of those patriots who saved our world from tyranny.
You MUST go to this place.
I met with Stephen Watson and enjoyed learning about their rapid growth, their challenges and Vision. These guys are doing it right and when I think about the potential for Air Bases, these are people to learn from. We discussed ways for the CAF to work closer with the WWII Museum and I look forward to future opportunities. The Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit will be there at New Orleans’s Lake Front airport over Memorial Day which is a great start for them to learn more about the CAF.
April 14, 2013
Hello from sunny? Florida! I know that Steve Buss has been doing a
good job keeping you updated from the Sun N Fun Fly-in, but I thought
I would weigh in.
The show is unfortunately very slow this year and we are hoping that
today is a better day. The first few days had great weather but the
last two have had weather challenges. But that doesn't truly explain
why things are so slow and I have been searching for an answer to the
question- why? The news in the GA world hasn't been the best, with
proposed user fees and tower closings. The tower closing date was
extended but that decision came only one day before the start of the
show. But this is all just conjecture and I will be monitoring the air
shows around the country to determine their level of crowds and sales.
The CAF Red Tail Squadron's Traveling Exhibit continues to be a crowd
favorite and arguably the most professional display in the Air Show
world. I went in and watched the film again and it never fails to
impress me and also feel pride at CAF's role in providing this
important educational tool. AOPA graciously provided support and a
special thanks to CAF Life Member Bill Bachscmidt for his financial
anchor support to bring the Exhibit to SNF.
I met with the folks from EAA and we planned out some exciting events
at Airventure Oshkosh. FIFI and Diamond Lil will be there and featured
prominently. Put it in your plans to come this year and be there by
Wed July 31st to join us at the annual Member Gathering- it is always
a great time and a way to meet other members and usually and aviation
celebrity or two.
Speaking of celebrities, I caught up with the best aerobatic pilot in
the world Sean Tucker this week. I have been after him to come to
Midland for several years to no avail. But with Sequestration he has
had many cancelations, so I have put the full court press on him to
come to Airsho! Stay tuned as I follow up on this possibility.
April 5, 2013
Attached is a letter to President Obama, signed by 223 Congressmen / women opposing the $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation. Members from both sides of the aisle have signed and include the leaders of the Aviation Sub-Committee and the General Aviation Congressional Caucus. CAF members at large can assist these advocacy efforts, by contacting their local US Congressional Representatives and urging them to join the GA Caucus; led by Sam Graves (R-MO) and John Barrow (D-GA).
Click link to view letter: User Fee Letter to the President
Yesterday I went up to Capitol Hill to stand with members of the GA
Caucus as we held a meeting and Press Conference led by famed actor
Harrison Ford. As most of you probably know Mr. Ford is an aviator and
has been an advocate for both EAA and AOPA in promoting aviation. He
became a pilot late in life, but in the 20 years since, he has attained many ratings, in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
Prior to the public meeting there was a private meetings between Mr. Ford and the Industry Members of the Caucus. In it we had the opportunity, at his request, to give him our points of view on the threat to GA that sequestration is bringing. Right now, more than 175
towers are scheduled to be closed in the near term. We feel that the budget cuts to the FAA being implemented in this manner will make a dramatic impact upon safety and we are asking the FAA to make the cuts required in a different area. Our concern is that this action may be being dictated to the FAA from above, as a pointed effort against GA in particular.
Therefore, the GA industry members felt that the Congressional Caucus needed to hear this and react accordingly. We are certainly lucky to have a high visibility individual such as Harrison Ford willing to take a leadership role in making that point.
During the public meeting, a dozen or so Congressional Representatives and many more staff members were there to listen. It was unfortunate that a vote happened to get scheduled at the same time, or we would have had better turnout. But the Press was there and the three newspapers that report internally to the Members and staffers on the Hill were all in attendance. Mr. Ford represented us well and hit all of the key points.
But we must all participate and I encourage each of you to contact your local congressional representatives and encourage them to do two things right away:
1. Call Sam Graves office and join the GA Caucus and,
2. Sign a letter,being brought forward, to counteract a plan to
implement User Fees for GA aircraft landings. This letter must be
signed by your Rep. no later than this Friday, March 23rd.
Remember, just one phone call from you makes a big difference to your Representative so give them a call!
All this is crucial to Keep the CAF Flying!
February 18, 2013
Opportunity Knocks with Sequester
As we all see Sequester looming and the negative impacts therein, let us take time to study and capitalize upon the opportunity created- an opportunity for our airplanes.
As you may or may not know the amount of Armed Forces aircraft available to perform at Airshows was cut back last year and Sequester may take those airplanes down effectively to zero. We all hope that this is not the case, but without a doubt, the numbers will decrease drastically.
That means that there will be hundreds of Airshows looking to fill that gap and entertain their crowds. All of us should be dialing those shows up right now. After modern military jet teams, single ship demos and static displays, the most popular feature at an airshow is warbirds. (This has been cited in multiple studies from International Council of Airshows -ICAS) Now is the time to remind these shows of that fact. Not "flip-flops", jet trucks, parachutes... nothing impresses the crowds better than warbirds. And our crews want to interact with the crowd, talk to kids, educate- all the things an airshow promoter should value. It is up to us to point out to point this out to the promoters. Right now they are myopic in the focus on their problem - We need to educate them on the solution... The CAF, and the best collection of performing warbirds in the world!
Go forth and sell! Keep the CAF Flying!
January 31, 2013
Coming up at the end of this month is the Wing Staff Conference at CAF HQ in Midland. As you know, last year I made it a requirement for each unit to be represented annually. Although some balked at that requirement, the overwhelming response from those who did attend was, “Wow, I am very surprised at how much I learned, which I am now going to implement in my unit; and how much FUN I had!”
The HQ Staff works very hard to improve the level of training we provide or facilitate and each year I feel we get a little better. To that end, we have added new seminars and improved the information or format of existing ones. One of the largest advantages that every attendee benefits from is the interaction with members from other CAF units. Odds are, if you are facing a problem, someone else has already faced it and may provide you with a solution that works; or helps you avoid a solution that doesn’t work!
Besides the seminars, there is the CAF Hall of Fame Banquet , CAF's Got Talent and of course the fellowship found at the O’ Club. So, please act now and register and encourage others in your unit to come. There is so much information disseminated that one person can’t cover it all.
I look forward to seeing you all here!
January 6, 2013
Why should we have to attend Wing Staff Conference?
A couple of you have asked me the question above-- some in order to convince themselves and some in order to convince their fellow unit members/leaders. Quite frankly, if you are going to be in a leadership position in any organization, you should have training and you should get it from members of the HQ staff, in concert with other unit leaders from around the country... this is especially true of the CAF. What other owns and operates World War II aircraft totally with volunteers? NONE. So, if we are going to operate complex aircraft where people's safety/lives are at stake, both on the ground and in the air, then we are going to have mandatory training for unit leaders on an annual basis. Is this an expense? Yes, of course it is, but those who have chosen to run for election and serve are making a greater commitment to the organization and with that commitment comes the responsibility to commit time and resources, and that must include training.
So that is why there is a requirement for unit leaders participation, but let's talk about what you wil get out of the conference and why you will enjoy attending.
- New Topics of Information
- New Delivery Methods of existing topics
- CAF Hall of Fame Banquet
- Exchange of Information between unit members with varying levels of experience and knowledge.
- Great Fellowship with CAF Leaders, General Staff and HQ Staff.
Typically our independently- minded members do not like requirements, which I understand, with a smile. In recent years the CAF has made great progress and I can link that progress to one word- standards. We have increased our standards in all areas. We look better, our units perform better, we are financially stronger, we are treating each other better and most importantly we are safer. Those standards have all increased because we have focused. So Wing Staff Conference is a crucial time for all of us to get "out of the weeds" and focus on the larger picture of the progressing CAF.
Finally, let me give you some feedback from those members who reluctantly attended last year. I had multiple members come up to me and individually say in some manner... " I did not want to come and I would not have come if you did not require it; but I am surprised to admit that I learned a lot, had a great time and will be back next year." No one wrote or told me they did not have a beneficial experience.
I hope this logic helps and I look forward to seeing you at Wing Staff Conference at the end of February.
November 27, 2012
Upcoming ICAS Board of Directors Election
As you may know, I have served on the International Council of Airshows (ICAS) Board of Directors for the past two years. My term is up this year and I will not be running again, as we have changed the Bylaws to ensure that there is solid representation from all interest groups. As a result of this change, my open slot will be filled with a performer. I am writing to encourage any of you that may be members of ICAS to cast your vote this year for the Nominating Committee's slate of candidates. One of your own CAF Colonels- Charles Hutchins- was a member of the Nominating Committee and he has told me how carefully they vetted and selected these nominees. This is an important election and I encourage all of you to vote for the Nominating Committee's selection. You may already know all of these individuals, but if not, I can assure you they have the best interests of ICAS at heart.
Please vote for Jan Collmer, Michael Goulian and Judy Willey.
November 20, 2012
I want to wish each and every CAF member and their families a Happy Thanksgiving. Although each of us faces challenges during the year, both large and small, we all can be grateful about something...
Mostly we can be universally grateful to live in a nation which is founded upon individual freedoms: The ability to express our views and beliefs without fear of reprisal - the ability to travel unimpeded on land, sea and especially in the air -the ability to hold a spirited democratic election. All of these things are luxuries that no other nation on earth permits for its citizens and all too often we take for granted; as we have grown too comfortable…
Certainly this is a holiday when we can reflect upon our family – setting issues aside to bask in the love that we feel for and from, parents and children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren.
We must all remember those who are serving on our behalf – away from their families and in harm’s way; all so that we may enjoy these incredible freedoms listed above. Finally, remember those families who have empty chairs at their table as they struggle with the hole in their hearts, missing those who have made the Ultimate Sacrifice.
Personally, I am thankful for all of those things and I am thankful for all of you. It is only because of each of you that I am enjoying the most satisfying position in my professional life. So, from me to you, Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.
October 30, 2012
here’s been a lot going on over the past couple of weeks, so here is an update:
AIRSHO– Its simple…good weather=good AIRSHO. And a good plan, with good expense control and good execution = great AIRSHO…which is what we had! We are just getting the final numbers in today, but it looks like we had the best attendance in the past 5 years since I arrived. And our expense control was such that we should have a profitable AIRSHO rivaling that of the 2001 Thunderbird / Viet Nam Wall exhibit show. The show itself was very popular with our warbirds and the Aeroshell Team and Julie Clark being the big draws. The Jet Schoolbus was a big crowd pleaser during the day and a jaw dropping happening during the Night AIRSHO. Our friend, CAF Col Matt Younkin saved the day when we had some last minute dropouts – I called Matt on Thursday and he was here by Friday to thrill the crowds and put the dramatic finishing touch on the night show.
I don’t think I have mentioned this group before, but 2 years ago I put out invitations to those members I thought might be interested in becoming a part of a new group called Pathfinders. Pathfinders are CAF members who make an annual unrestricted donation of $5,000 to become a part of this group. It is defined as “An inner circle of visionary Colonels focused upon the future of the CAF.” Each of the past 2 years, this small group has met for a “retreat” at a unique aviation destination, where we have arranged a behind-the-scenes tour. The first year, we toured Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft’s production facilities in Wichita and received detailed briefings from their executives. This year, I stumbled upon a unique museum in a remote but very accessible location. I stopped for Avgas in Weatherford OK (KOJA) on my way to Oshkosh this year and when I went inside to use the facilities, there was the Thomas B. Stafford Air and Space Museum. It holds 40,000 square feet of aviation and spacecraft displays that rival ANY that I have seen. So, I scheduled this year’s meeting there and as I expected, the members had never even heard of the place. Lt. Gen Tom Stafford was a Gemini and Apollo astronaut and the commander of the Apollo-Soyuz joint space mission. He is still alive and visits the museum regularly and I highly recommend that you do as well. The Museum director Max Ary is also quite accomplished. He was the Founder and President of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which he operated for 20 years. But Max is also the leader of the expedition that sought out and recovered the Gemini capsule Liberty Bell 7, which was lost at sea when the hatch blew before the buoys were secured, after the suborbital flight of Gus Grissom. (This event was made famous in the movie “The Right Stuff” – my favorite movie of all time) The capsule sat in 16,000 feet of water and the recovery story captivated us as he gave his personal slide show.
To top it off, the FBO there has the best price on aviation fuel that I have seen this year. 2 weeks ago I paid $4.80 a gallon for 100LL and their Jet A was equally as low. So, stop in for gas and go see this wondrous museum!
After that, the Pathfinders met as a group and we looked into the future and at some current issues relating to the growth and future health of the CAF. We have 2 new younger members and they led the discussions with thoughts of better operations and ideas for financial health in the business environment of social media, websites and the short attention span of Americans. Their ideas were very helpful and invigorating to all of us and we are already working to improve as a member association. (For more information on Pathfinders, write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org )
WINGS OVER HOUSTON
Like AIRSHO at Midland – beautiful cool weather combined with the Blue Angels and great management and volunteers = a perfect air show. According to Col Bill Roach by the end of the day Saturday, he expected this year’s air show to be probably the best in the 28 years of their show! The crowds were enormous and the lineup of performers impressive. The F-22 is always a huge crowd favorite as it performs maneuvers that were impossible prior to that aircraft’s development. At the performer’s party on Friday night, there was the Raptor pilot talking with triple-ace P-51 pilot, USAF COL C.E. “Bud” Anderson. They spoke for about an hour with each pilot learning what it was like to fly and fight in their respective airplanes. You could see the respect that these two aviators, separated by 65 years of experience, had for each other and their individual experiences….magical to watch.
The Texas Flying Legends Museum has been a good friend to the CAF in the past 2 years – first their principals donated $1 million to fund the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s Rise Above Traveling Exhibit. This year, they sponsored an acoustic version of CAF’s Red White and Loud Tour starring Aaron Tippin, at their hangar to close out the Saturday activities at Wings Over Houston. It was a classy and neat event and we are already talking about a larger version for next year – stay tuned!
Stephan C. Brown
President / CEO
Oct. 9, 2012
I am back from a week-long tour in the newly CAF logo-ed Piper Arrow II in which I flew 2990 Nautical Miles in 7 days! 23 hours in the cockpit with no autopilot helps keep you focused – if nothing else. My first stop was to visit Dan Fordice, the Mississippi Wing leader at his home airport in Vicksburg, MS. There he is setting up the Southern Heritage Aviation Museum. His P-51 is an anchor airplane along with a T-6 and several others. We had lunch and then flew over to Madison, MS to meet with the members at their hangar. It is a nice hangar on a pretty airport, where they have had trouble with the FBO owner. Unfortunately he seems not to like warbirds and takes this out on the members whenever the opportunity arises. It is disappointing and illustrates how important relations with the local leaders are – although the Mississippi Wing has done their best. We had a good meal and fellowship after our meeting. Visiting unit members continues to be the best part of my already enjoyable job!
Next it was off to Rome, GA to catch up with Red, White & Loud Tour Manager Autumn Hicks, for the Wings Over North Georgia show for a Red, White & Loud tour stop. As they have been at each venue, these are always a lot of fun and typically each concert includes a new twist. The twist here was that a member of the Canadian Snowbirds reportedly had been a Finalist on a Canadian version of a country music contest – think “Canadian Country Idol”…and his song for the finals had been Aaron’s “KISS THIS”. Now no one had heard him sing, but we discussed it and thought, “what the heck -if he is good, it will be good and if he is bad, it will be funny…!” So, on the last verse of the last song of the concert (Kiss This closes the show) I strolled out behind Aaron and tapped him on the shoulder, handed him a note, which read; “I’ve got a guy who can sing KISS THIS, better than you!” Aaron feigns anger and petulantly says, “Bring him on!”. Well, the guy strolls up, 6’4” good looking with a cowboy shirt and 10 gallon hat…. and proceeds to knock it out of the park! The crowd is going crazy, Aaron and I are laughing and they teamed up at the end for a duet. The crowd went wild…a fabulous end to a great concert!!!
I went out with the Devil Dog crowd the night before and met some of their young (early 20s) members who were aviation crazy and in love with Devil Dog because of their exposure through Beth Jenkins – the whole crew is tight and a great group to have a margarita(s) with.
From there, I slipped out ahead of bad weather to wing my way north to Indianapolis for a Sunday afternoon meeting with the Indiana Wing. I got there Saturday afternoon in time to enter the pattern just ahead of their PT-26. I walked over to the gas pump after landing and told them how good-looking the paint job was on the airplane and introduced myself. The little town of Carmel, IN, is 5 minutes from Indianapolis Exec, it is a spot I highly recommend anyone go to with your spouse. A really neat town with running and biking trails, art and design district and relaxed al fresco dining spots along the running trail. (I did the running but not the eating part…next time I will though!)
I met with about 8 members for lunch that Sunday at Montgomery Aviation, where the owner is very supportive and generous to the Wing. They are a smaller unit, but with some “younger” (in CAF years that is) members who campaign both of their airplanes. We talked about different ideas for them to grow, in membership and financially…which brings up a point to be made. Coming to Wing / Winter Staff Conference is a must for all units for just that reason. So much creative information flows between members and units that the value received more than makes up for the expense. I often advise units to call this or that unit to get advice, when I hear about a dilemma – but at this one conference you have access to all of the units plus the HQ staff. Plan now on coming! (Mar 1-3, 2013)
After our lunch meeting, I saddled up – to go saddle up…. and 750NM later I was landing at sunset at 9V5 Rushville, Nebraska, where I spent 3 days on horseback, weaning, sorting and ultimately shipping cattle to the sale barn for auction. The drought has been brutal in Nebraska and the weights were down 50lbs per head, but at least the price-per-pound was strong.
I headed back to Midland after one last morning playing cowboy and completed the final leg of my big rectangle. I had a great time visiting all of the members and seeing this great country from the view of a single engine airplane – the only way to travel!! (unless you can afford a twin!:)
Keep the CAF Flying!
Questions, Comments, Concerns? Email Steve directly at email@example.com
Sept. 19, 2012
Hello Blog Followers;
I have been on the west coast for some wine, warbirds and air racing and all were quite tasty!
I visited the Central Valley Squadron in Modesto for the first time and they were my 46th unique unit visited. (Slowly getting to the magic number of 62 unit locations) The visit was very good and they were proud to show me their hangar, L-5 and O-Club – all of which were in immaculate condition. I spent 2 hours with them where they shared with me what they were up to and for them to hear what was going on around the country in other units. They had 2 World War II vets, one of whom landed at Normandy as an 19 year old ambulance driver. He presented me with his book, which I enjoyed reading.
(Several of their members manned a merchandise tent at Reno, where they raise funds each year.)
After that came wine (sorry – no details :) but the wine quiz of the day is – name the famous winery that the attached picture(s) are from….
On to Reno where I was hosted by Air Capital Insurance with a flight line view! I visited the High Sierra Squadron, who held daily “burger burns” at their hangar on site. Their membership was very engaged and had their N3N on display in the Heritage area. On Friday, Bob Stenevik, Charlie Gillespie and I met with other members of the Warbird industry and the Regional Reps from the FAA regarding the recent L-39 Advisory. More and more, the FAA is focusing on Warbirds, especially with respect to jets.
Since we had Greg Hiser on site, Bob, Greg and I got on a conference call with the other key HQ Staff, where we reviewed our Insurance coverage for the CAF. We had significant discussions and I asked Greg to look into some other details and provide some options that I will look at; with the aim of presenting these to the General Staff at the December meeting at the Arizona Wing (these meetings are open to all CAF members, in case you want to attend).
At Reno the So Cal Wing was center stage with both Cats and the Spitfire. They were key in the Missing Man formation for last year’s victims, as well as the Navy’s daily Legacy Flight. Mark “Mutha” Hubbard wrote an excellent script, that the Air Show Announcers read during their flight – it promoted the CAF and our mission wonderfully – well done So Cal!
The races went well, and most important safely! Steven Hinton was unbeatable.
Membership update: we have cracked 4100+ Annual Colonels for the first time since 2008 and over 6300 Total Colonels (Annual + Life)…and we are closing in on 10,000 Total Members…so the trend continues to climb slightly.
Of note, FIFI is on the cover of Sport Aviation and we have our first female B-29 pilot in the history of the CAF! (Debbie Travis King) There is also a very significant article in Air Shows magazine thins month where we are on the cover, with the tag line – “The New Face of the CAF” It has a picture of Col Tracy Toth on the cover and inside are 2 spectacular articles. This is the best corporate press coverage possibly in the past 30 years. I will post the entire article soon.
I head to Sun ‘n Fun this week for their Board meeting and the following I will fly myself to Mississippi Wing and then a Red, White & Loud Concert at Wings over North Georgia (Featuring the B-25 Devil Dog) and returning via the Indiana Wing…..( If the weather will cooperate!)
See you at AIRSHO in just a few weeks!!
Contact directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
After the doldrums of Oshkosh, I am about to hit the road again for a stint before AIRSHO and then all the way through December and the ICAS Convention. I will be in Reno next week, so if you are there, let me know or look for me by the Air Capital Insurance RV in the pits. Plenty of good friends will be there and I look forward to a fabulous, safe and exciting Reno. While out there, I will meet with the Central California Valley Squadron (CCVS) and the High Sierra Squadron. CCVS typically displays and sells merchandise at Reno, so if you are there, stop by and greet them.
CAF’s Red, White & Loud Concerts, starring Aaron Tippin
in Rome, Ga. on Friday, Sept. 28th at 8:30 p.m. So, go over and check it out – our B-25 Devil Dog will be the backdrop!
In the past 2 years we will have conducted 8 Red, White & Loud concerts around the country, including AirVenture Oshkosh and Sun 'n Fun. These concerts have inspired our audiences and educated them on the CAF’s mission and some of our airplanes. Aaron has been a fabulous ambassador for us – in the same way Tennessee Ernie Ford did for then CAF back in the 60’s and 70’s.
To that end, Aaron and I have been discussing the future - RWL 2.0 if you will. We recognize that show promoters want variety and we want the ability to come back to a venue in back to back to back years; which requires innovation. So, the entire RWL team is working on a new format with Aaron and we look forward to unveiling it at ICAS this December – stay tuned, I will preview it in this Blog!
More Unit Visits
Before and after the Wings Over Georgia show, I will be visiting the Mississippi and Indiana Wings respectively. I have not been to either and this will inch me ever closer to my goal of visiting every CAF unit. (I’ve already missed my time frame goal…so I am just aiming to make it before I die!) So far I have made it to 45 out of 62 physical unit locations. If you are a member of those two units, I look forward to seeing you later this month!
More Magazine Covers!
It is a dynamic angle of the airplane as she is overhead the Oshkosh grounds. The plane looks like polished aluminum and is quite beautiful from this rear ¾ view. Also, Warbirds International has Gunfighter and CAF Col Jeff Linebaugh on the lower half of the front cover with more photos inside. Finally, inside this issue of Warbirds (Warbirds Of America’s monthly magazine) features the Centex Wing’s “Cobra Den” of P-39 and P-63 aircraft. So, congratulations to all those and the others who have spread the CAF’s name and mission in aviation publications!
AIRSHO is just five weeks away and things are shaping up! We are excited to have the Aeroshell Team and CAF Col Julie Clark back after many years and know that they will be crowd favorites. We continually try to get the military jet teams to come perform, but their limited schedules keep us out of the rotation. So, the Aeroshell Team brings the same type of excitement and even a little more grace to their routine. New to the lineup is the Jet Powered School Bus, as the Indy Boys fire that black and yellow “kid-hauler” up to 300mph. All three of those acts will be part of the night show as we roll continuously through the day to nightfall with a 7 hour show….with many breaks for food and fun. This allows for people to come when their schedule permits and still see a full show, OR take the plunge with a FULL marathon day of AIRSHO fun.
Check me out on Facebook at Caf Ceo Stephan Brown. Click Here.
Fri, Aug 10, 2012 2:16 PM
Never Say Never!
I re-learn that lesson every day, but never more than today; I now have a
Facebook page for my professional (not personal) life; in the CAF. My FB
name is Caf Ceo Stephan Brown. So, if by some measure, you think what I have
to show-and-tell is interesting, feel free to "friend" me.
If not, good for you -you have a life!!! Seriously, I have been told that I
get to meet a lot of interesting people and that others out there might
enjoy looking in.so, I will attempt to make it interesting and fun.
General Staff Meeting and AirVenture 2012 So, I did spend a week at home, although plenty of it spent prepping for Oshkosh. I hopped into my “new” airplane and flew to Olathe,Kan. for the General Staff Meeting, which we have been holding at a CAF unit location in the vicinity of Oshkosh, WI the weekend prior to the world-famous EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. The Heart of America Wing could not have been more welcoming and generous as they provided great space and even better food and drink for the Board members assembled. Thank you to Jack and Beth McCale, Kim and Phil Pardon and ALL of the members who hosted us. I think that all members should take the opportunity to observe a General Staff meeting sometime – they are open to members and provide a great insight into the inner workings of the company. The following day, I flew over to a nearby airport (Miami County – K81) where they have a small restaurant on the field with a great view of the paved and grass strips. Neils Agather and Kim Pardon also flew in respectively, to join myself and CAF Col John McCullah who is a very talented photographer. John suggested the breakfast and I recommend this spot to anyone passing through. By the time we left, 15-20 airplanes had arrived and all were critiqued by those already noshing inside. So, a hint would be to arrive early and be on the delivering, rather than the receiving end of the “landing critiques”. I returned to Midland and after 2 days there off-loading newlywed Irene’s furniture, we loaded up for a late afternoon departure flight to Oshkosh in a Piper Arrow II. Word to the wise – avoid a late afternoon start across heat ravaged Texas for the first flight with your new spouse. (So, I’m not so wise…!) 8 flight hours later and the next day at noon, we arrived in Oshkosh after parking at Fond du Lac. The morning flight was very smooth, but the memory of the bumps and a “head squeezed-like-a-grape” headset were still top of mind on my latest CAF recruit’s mind. But, a 2 p.m. Press Conference awaited, where I introduced the concept of the New Face of the CAF (click here) We had four “new” faces on stage along with Aaron Tippin to illustrate that youth and diversity of membership were a focus for the CAF, with the aim of remaining relevant as we lose our founding member base. Air Show News magazine is writing a major feature about the CAF, based upon this concept which I debuted at a similar Press Conference at Sun ‘n Fun this year. They have done a number of interviews and I am excited to see the end result in print. I also alluded to the fact that Aaron Tippin and I are working on the next version of CAF’s Red White & Loud Concert series starting 2013. We still have 2 more concerts on the books for 2012 and I am excited to broaden the scope. FIFI was again at OSH with the focus this year on ride flights. We had worked closely with EAA to coordinate the rides originating in Appleton and overflying Oshkosh and Fond du Lac and we also marketed to EAA members. By the time I arrived on Wed, all but 11 seats on the 20 flights of 10 passengers each were sold out and by Thursday, there were none. On Thursday evening FIFI repositioned to AirVenture grounds and was at the main Phillips 66 Plaza for the attendees arriving Friday morning. On Thursday night we had attended the annual Gathering of Eagles, fund raising dinner for EAA’s Young Eagles. A special flight was auctioned off and I joined famed Barrett Auctions auctioneer “Spanky” Assiter to pitch a flight on FIFI and DAV’s B-25, Panchito with Enola Gay navigator Dutch Van Kirk and Doolittle Co-Pilot Dick Cole. A total of 11 seats were available between the two aircraft and this historic flight brought a winning bid of $42,000 to the Young Eagles cause. The feeling of history was palpable as these two aviation legends stood side by side for photos prior to boarding these airplanes. The winning bidder had generously donated all of the seats to 11 young aviation enthusiasts attending the show. I spoke with the father of one of the kids, who told me that he had just joined the CAF 6 months prior. He was soooo excited for his child! The flight went off brilliantly and the B-29 crew had Dutch sign the Navigator’s table, where they will cover and protect it for posterity. On Friday and Saturday, TORA performed for the first time in history at AirVenture. I was proud as our award winning air show act showed Oshkosh attendees what truly world class performers they are! On top of that “first” was a “last”, as it was the last time that Ken Cites performed as Narrator for TORA. Ken has been the voice of TORA for 30 years and he relays the drama, fear, excitement, tragedy and history in this Pearl Harbor re-enactment. I was honored to stand outside of Hangar 57 on Saturday and just listen to Ken’s final performance. Thank you Ken and enjoy your well-deserved retirement. Red Tails and the Tuskegee Airmen were a focus of this year’s AirVenture and the Red Tail Squadron was a major part of that: Our CAF P-51 Tuskegee Airmen was the cover shot for the AirVenture poster and all of their subsequent marketing materials. That is the 2nd year in a row for this honor for the CAF (Last year was the SB2C Helldiver) and the Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit was on Phillips 66 Plaza alongside Hangar 57. The movie within the exhibit never fails to illicit great emotion, even from the crustiest curmudgeon. Other key CAF aircraft attending included the P-40 with Ray Kinney and the sponsor groupm B-25 Devil Dog, A-26 Lady Liberty, P-51 Gunfighter, P-51 Red Nose, Dixie Wing’s SBD, 2 PT-26’s (WI and IN Wing), MN Wing BT-13 and IN Wing L-2. So, another year passed at AirVenture and another big success for the CAF. We continue to make a loud noise in the aviation world and both Oshkosh and Sun n’ Fun are fun venues for CAF members to get together at the annual CAF Member Gatherings. A large amount of thanks go to all of the CAF members who volunteered at Hangar 57 and at all of the CAF operations we had going on that week. Thank you!! If you have never been to either of these aviation celebrations, you should start planning now – they are magic and a great place to see your organization performing its mission of Education to its fullest.
July 11, 2012
A busy month has passed since I wrote, but a lot has happened personally and professionally. We had a visit from USAA to let us know that the CAF/USAA credit card program is up and running and that we have had 50 people sign up! So, first off, if you don’t have a CAF/USAA Master Card®, please apply for one. (Click Here) Using this card helps you through its great rewards program and it helps the CAF every time you use it! Second, if you have gotten the card, please activate it and start shopping! In mid-June I went and saw my son graduate from US Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga. My Mom was there as well and we witnessed his final two out of five jumps. My father completed the course in 1958 and I did the same in 1980, so I was proud to be able to pin my wings on him as a third generation paratrooper. Airborne! From there it was on to the ICAS (International Council of Air Shows) Executive Committee meeting in Chicago, where we looked at the challenges of the airshow industry and how ICAS can make an impact. The Board of Directors is currently working on (what I believe is the first) Strategic Plan for ICAS. Brig. Gen. Marcus Jannitto is leading the effort and I am overseeing the Corporate Governance Section. As the CAF went through this exercise starting in 2008, led by then Chief of Staff, Col Bill Coombes, I had the most experience in Policy Governance, which I proposed to the Board. They were intrigued and have hired Barry Diamond, from the Sandbar Group to guide us through the process; as he did for the CAF and the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. From Chicago, I flew to the So Cal Wing and the Arizona Wing to discuss the potential to each become an Airbase. These two Units have the potential to make this transition in the shortest term. Both Units’ Staffs were excited to make this transition and to do what it takes to get there. As always, being on the road and visiting Units and members in the field is the highlight of my job. We all learn a lot and I get to see the magnificent efforts of so many who keep our mission alive. I returned to Midland for an 18-hour turn around and then I was off to Washington D.C. where Mark Novak and I attended meetings with the FAA. The topic was the Living History Flight Exemption (LHFE) program. Under this program, established in 1996, non-profit warbird organizations can charge passengers to fly in limited or experimental category aircraft, within strict limitations. Each warbird must be individually approved for the program. The program has been an unqualified success, with nearly 100 aircraft in the program and CAF with the largest number at 29. Last year the FAA came out with a moratorium stopping all additions and changes to existing exemptions until the end of CY 2012. There were significant restrictions added prior to the moratorium we were trying to change that are on hold until the moratorium is ended. Two of these are the probation on aerobatics and allowing passengers to “fly the airplane” at altitude. The meeting spanned 3 days, with each topic of the LHFE being reviewed and commented upon, live, by the assembled warbird organizations. This meeting proved to be a building of relationships between “us” and the FAA. I have high hopes that this type of meeting and proactive management of this program will enhance all of our relationships. The meeting spanned three days, with each topic of the LHFE being reviewed and commented upon by the assembled warbird organizations. This meeting proved to be a building of relationships between “us” and the FAA. I have high hopes that this type of meeting and proactive management of this program will enhance all of our relationships. Later that same week, I got married – yes married. I married Irene Thompson, who I met while she worked at Sun ‘N Fun in Florida. She is a retired US Air Force Lt. Colonel, which should hold her in good stead meeting the CAF Colonels. Of course, we picked the hottest day in history to hold an outdoor garden wedding – ugh! With temperatures at 100+ and matching humidity, we kept the proceedings short and moved indoors for the reception! After a brief honeymoon in New York City and Niagara Falls, it was back to Tampa to pack her household goods. In typical “military” fashion, I flew off to meet with the Utah Wing, while Irene supervised the packing and loading by the movers…my father would have been proud- but my mother and new wife…not so much. I spent this past Monday morning with the Utah Wing Staff. They have an energetic young Wing Leader in John Hammans - and he and the Wing Staff have been steadily digging themselves out of a financial bind that many Units have faced. Discovering new revenue streams is the key to success and they have made positive steps in that direction. I think 2013 holds a brighter outlook for them. That evening, against a beautiful mountainous backdrop, I spoke to the Unit members. With the sun setting and pork chops on the grill, we talked about all of the things going on around the country and how they could accomplish our mission better in their area. Good ideas were circulated and the members had a very positive mindset for their future. As I close out this blog, waiting at DFW airport for the storms to clear in the area, I am happy to be headed back into the office…for a week. J Then, it’s off to Heart of America Wing and EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh! I hope to see many of you in Oshkosh – make sure you come to the annual CAF member gathering on Wednesday night. It is at a new location this year, so be sure to check out the scoop before you go to Oshkosh or stop by Hangar 57 for details!
June 13, 2012
As you can see from the photo I am now the proud holder of a CAF USAAMasterCard! I am very excited and have started using it as my PREFERRED credit card on all of my purchases. The interest rate is outstanding and their rewards program is reputed to be one of, if not the, best in the business. (I look forward to finding out!) You know, USAA is an outstanding company overall and I have been a member since age 21, and my Father and Grandfather were both lifelong members; and now, all 3 of my kids too! I was even amazed to learn that you can buy certified diamond rings from USAA, over the internet, with a money back guarantee and guaranteed value, if you upgrade at any point. (Did I mention I am getting married at the end of the month? She is already a USAA and CAF member too.)
I tell you all of this because when we were approached by USAA I was very receptive to becoming involved with them. If you don't know, USAA's mission has been to support military families and those connected to military families with insurance, banking and other services since 1922 - sounds familiar, eh!? They have been very supportive of the CAF and your participation in this program will reward YOU and the CAF! That's right, the CAF gets money when you sign up and when you use this card. And if all those are not reason enough, consider this....we always think that the CAF should be sponsored nationally by some company that identifies with our Mission - doesn't USAA fit into that potential mold? I think so, but let's face it, companies are not going to sponsor a cause that does not meet their criteria AND support THEIR cause...which is to be in business.
So, with all those factors in mind, I hope that you will join me in applying for and utilizing the new CAF USAA MasterCard!
Click here to find out more.
May 29, 2012
I hope that all of you took time to remember those who served, yesterday on Memorial Day. Here in Midland, we held our annual Memorial Day celebration, where our Congressman Mike Conaway was the keynote speaker and the B-17 Texas Raiders was the impressive backdrop. The B-17 crew gave a seminar about operating the airplane today and CAF Col Sandy Thompson had also located John Campbell, a WWII veteran, from Odessa. John gave a moving testimony about the 35 missions he had flown as a B-17 Flight Engineer and top turret gunner. He had been shot down three times including once where the airplane had plummeted from 28,000 to 10,000 feet before the pilot had regained control of the aircraft. They had to make an emergency landing, destroying the airplane, but the entire crew was OK. The emotion welled, as he went back in time, such that it became difficult for him to speak – but the crowd reacted with a standing ovation; a moving presentation for all.
Texas Raiders performed 4 ride flights and she looked beautiful in the clear skies above Midland / Odessa. There was a Missing Man formation from the High Sky Wing, a cockpit climb, face painting, balloon animals and indoor remote controlled airplanes for kids. Both the High Sky Wing and Desert Squadron participated in making this event a success with drinks for sale and a hamburger / hotdog lunch.
If your unit does not perform or participate in a ceremony you may want to consider doing so – it gives you exposure to a new audience. I know that we signed CAF / Unit new members and also a new sponsor for a unit airplane , all from people who knew very little about the CAF before coming here. This morning I received the email below from Beth McCale of the Heart of America Wing. As you can see, Memorial Day can be a great opportunity to perform our mission and increase visibility of the CAF!
Steve...HOA just participated in a two day Memorial Day event at Kansas City's WWI Liberty Memorial. We have done many of these events where we set up a booth with information about the CAF and HOA wing and with pictures and models of our planes. We always meet so many wonderful people, many of whom want to tell us about their experiences and those of their friends and relatives. And the children are wonderful...sparkle in their eyes...so inquisitive...and some of them know as much about the planes as we do!
Anyway, my point in sending you this note is that this weekend we really did see that we are no longer 'The Air Force you've never heard of'...just as you said in the May Dispatch. For so many years, most of the people that stopped by our booth did not know anything about the Commemorative Air Force or about HOA. But this year, things have turned around. Still lots of people who haven't heard of us...but lots of them have. Many said that they have attended our HOA events, and some of them have been to other wings' events and to Midland.
I have to tell you...I'm really pumped! We've worked so hard to get the message out, and its finally paying off. We must continue the work...but it sure is great to begin to see the positive results.
And, as usual, we all looked pretty darn snappy in our navy CAF shirts with the CAF flags flying on our booth!
Thanks so much…
May 25, 2012
Last weekend was a busy and fun one - and not just because I got back into the cockpit of an airplane for the first time in 18 months! I flew a Piper Arrow II over to Hondo, Texas on Friday for the Hondo Army Airfield Fly-In, which was conducted by the Tex Hill Wing. I have to tell you that this unit has come out of the ashes in just 2 short years, with their move to Hondo. Led by John Gibeau, this group of enthusiastic members has more than doubled in size (Tony Van Derbur will threaten the perennial favorites bid for the Mission Membership top prize) and has engaged favorably with the Airport Manager, Mayor, County Judge and Chamber of Commerce - just to name a few. Friday night a BBQ was held and attended by more than 150 people who heard a moving account of the Flying Tigers, presented by 91 year old Dr. John Yee - the last of the Chinese translators from the American Volunteer Group (AVG). Dr. Yee knew and worked closely with AVG leader Claire Chennault and Texas and WWII aviation legend Tex Hill. It was amazing to listen to the first person account from Dr. Yee and it was explained that he is known by a Chinese word, which translates as "living bones". Quite a magical evening! The next day I got to ride in a train locomotive that brought me and Hondo Mayor Jim Danner, Judge James Barden, US Congressman Francisco Canseco and several other dignitaries to the town center for the re-dedication of Hwy 90 and a celebration of our veterans. The event was punctuated by Texas Raiders (B-17) passing overhead at the close of the ceremony, which brought forth an emotional response from all who were gathered.
From there we all went to the airport and officially opened the Fly-in. There were 50+ airplanes that came in, including Devil Dog and most of the High Sky Wing pilots, in CAF and Member-owned aircraft. The Airport Manager, Tim Fousse is a huge advocate for the CAF and couldn't be more welcoming as he expounded to me that he hopes this Fly-in will evolve into a full blown air show in the coming years. The festivities were fun and the B-17, B-25 and all the warbirds, experimental and Standard category airplanes got to be "stars" with the kids and adults who attended. Way to go Tex Hill Wing!
Towards the end of the Fly-in I flew on to Houston and met the following day, Sunday afternoon, at the West Houston airport with members from the West Houston Squadron, Tora and the Gulf Coast Wing. The meeting lasted 2 hours and consisted of a briefing on the Houston Airbase and a question and answer session surrounding this plan. In a nutshell, the General Staff has set an Ends Statement (Strategic Goal) that "the general public in Houston, Texas will have access to and experience a world-class CAF educational aviation attraction by 2017." So, we touched on some of the logistical and organizational structure aspects along with the fund raising efforts that will be required. Plenty of challenges and hurdles to overcome, but a leadership element of Don Price, former GCW leader and Leah Block from the HQ staff, who lives in Houston, will rally a team of additional Houston-area members to outline and execute the plan.
As always, visiting units in the field is the most enjoyable aspect of this job and I met many enthusiastic members in Hondo and Houston. The WHS's hangar looked great and all 5 airplanes are flying for the first time in years - well done WHS! The members at Tex Hill Wing are anxious to get an airplane back in their midst and with the enthusiasm I saw, I have no doubt that this will occur soon.
As you have seen from the Press Release, we hired a new VP of Development – Yay! This has been a long process, but one that we felt was crucial to our long-term security as an organization; therefore we took our time and considered carefully. Steve Buss is a gentleman that I worked with at EAA as he oversaw the Young Eagles Program. When EAA reorganized and Steve decided to move on, I saw a perfect opportunity and brought David Pasahow (Chairman of the Board, CAF Foundation) into the loop. David had also worked with Steve Buss and we added him into the candidate pool. Steve came down and interviewed with me and other Staff members and was a great fit. He is not a “classically trained” development guy, but we felt that we needed someone who had that practical experience (as he did in the Young Eagles Program) but who also had an aviation background So, by the end of the 6 months search, Steve came out on top and agreed to move he and his wife Julie to Midland!!! We have great hopes for his ability to engrain himself into the local community as well as his already extensive background in the aviation community. Steve will focus on the national fund raising programs and opportunities, as well as growing the endowment through planned giving. This Friday, I will travel to Hondo,Texas to kick off their Hondo Army Airfield Fly-In along with other festivities that the town conducts concurrently. When I spoke to the Unit last month, the Mayor and County Judge were there and very supportive of the CAF in Hondo. They even invited me to come to the rededication of Hwy 90 and to ride on a train locomotive….every boy’s dream!
From there I will fly myself to Houston and meet on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. with the West Houston Squadron and the Gulf Coast Wing about Airbase Houston (West Houston Airport Hangar B5). We are going to officially start the ball rolling there towards Airbase Houston and I look forward meeting with the membership and starting the process forward. We have a local champion now, former Gulf Coast Wing Leader Don Price, along with a HQ presence in Leah Block. Together they will champion and rally the concept towards reality…with help from the local membership of all Units in the area.
May 12, 2012
From the President's desk
I wanted to take a minute to let you all know that Aaron Tippin was not aboard the aircraft that crashed in Kansas late Friday afternoon.
You may have heard a rumor to the contrary, but I have spoken with Aaron myself and confirmed he is safe and sound!
Please join me in sending our prayers and thoughts to the families of those who were lost or injured in the accident.
April 26, 2012
From the President’s desk
FIFI now appears to be safe! As you have probably seen, the past seven days have been tumultuous in the Warbird community, with the concern about the "Title 10 Amendment" to H.R. 4310 proposed by Congressman Michael R. Turner (R-OH). I am happy to say that I think we have made tremendous progress in that time, due to the reaction of YOU the members of the CAF. When Congressman Mica's office of the Aviation Subcommittee called me, I immediately became very concerned and sounded the alarm. What Congressman Mica's office or our close friends in Congressman Graves' and Congressman Conaway's office did not know was that FIFI is a Conditional Donation from the USAF, with a further agreement which permits Flight Operations of our B-29. Since we have been very diligent in adhering to our agreement, there is no way for the USAF to keep us from flying her; except through legislation. Therefore, you can imagine my concern here, when we learned:
about language that purportedly prohibits flight operations of Department of Defense (DoD) loaned aircraft
the amendment had been proposed by a Congressman from the Dayton Ohio area (home of the National Museum of the USAF)
the Congressman used logic derived from a study that was (from my understanding) conducted by the USAF, which establishes concern about operating Warbirds; with special focus upon jet Warbirds. As things progressed we issued a press release and gave subsequent interviews, it became apparent that Congressman Turner's office was feeling the heat. CAF members and members from other aviation enthusiast organizations, like EAA / Warbirds of America and Classic Jet Aircraft Association (CJAA) bombarded his office with calls, e-mails and letters. As our friend and CAF Colonel - Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) has told me, Congress listens to input from individuals...and we can all take comfort in that. With that pressure, Rep. Turner's office has told me directly, as well as Congressman Graves' office, that there will not be a "Title 10 Amendment" put forward by Turner limiting warbird flight operations. As of this moment, his now-modified statement does reflect the following, "The Warbird community plays an important role in bringing [World War II] era aircraft to our nation's citizens. These propeller-driven craft are ambassadors of freedom's price and I do not support grounding any of them." So, it appears that FIFI and other "propeller-driven" Warbirds are safe from Congressman Turner and I am pleased that the efforts of the CAF membership and the pressure applied has modified what could have been disastrous language.
That being said, my concern continues to be that Rep. Turner will not come out in writing promising to never propose or support language that limits the flight operations of DoD "loaned" aircraft - of any kind, jets or otherwise...as I have requested several times over the past week. Instead, we are left with his lone written statement which strikes me as wishy-washy; especially with his statement of concern about jet aircraft.
Let's Keep the CAF Flying!!!
Since last week several communications have occurred between the CAF and Congressman Turner’s office regarding his position and proposed amendment to H.R. 4310, “Title 10.” Congressman Turner has issued the following statement.
Congressman Michael R. Turner
Turner Statement on Military Heritage Aircraft
Washington D.C. – Congressman Mike Turner (OH-3) released the following statement on the flying of military heritage aircraft and the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act:
“Dayton is home to the National Museum of the Air Force, and has the largest collection of historical military aircraft in the world. I know the value and importance that the facility has in honoring sacrifices of our veterans and as a symbol that freedom isn’t free. The Warbird community plays an important role in bringing WWII era aircraft to our nation’s citizens. These rotary craft are ambassadors of freedom’s price and I do not support grounding any of them.
“My concern lies in the potential for military jet aircraft to be transferred to civilians for flight without the same rigorous training and maintenance schedules that pilots and aircraft underwent when they were in service. In fact, the Department of Defense was asked by Congress to conduct a study on post-1947 military aircraft and what concerns the department has with their being flown. In short, the Department both in the report and through their policies does not support these aircraft from being transferred to civilians for flight.
“I look forward to working with the Warbird community to see that they continue to stay in the air. Their contributions have inspired Americans young and old, and will do so for years to come.”
Contact: Tom Crosson Cell: (202) 450-7398
I read Rep. Turner's release and it does not allay the CAF’s concerns. First "rotary aircraft" are helicopters so this does not address our types of aircraft. Also, he expresses concern about the transfer of jet aircraft. The CAF does not support the banning of these transfers either. The FAA oversees the safety of flight for all types of these aircraft. Rep. Turner has a solution in search of a problem.
My congressional contacts indicate that the language currently being considered would ground our key aircraft, the CAF’s B-29 FIFI.
We will continue our efforts to ensure NO language appears that limits the ability of the CAF and other patriotic organizations to educate Americans to a source of their freedoms through flight operations of historical military aircraft.
I find this statement of Rep. Turner's to be weak and with too much room for interpretation.
April 19, 2012
FIFI under attack from Ohio Congressman
Some of you may have already seen that EAA has released the story about Rep Michael Turner (R-OH) proposing an amendment, “Title 10” to the House National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310). This is something I have been working on since last week, but since EAA has taken it public, I will give you the details.
The significance of “Title 10” is that it would bar the Department of Defense from loaning or gifting any U.S. military aircraft to any organization which would conduct flight operations with said aircraft. Those aircraft could only be loaned or “conditionally donated” for static display only.
Last week I was contacted by the staff of Rep. John Mica(R-FL) about their concern for this amendment. Rep. Mica is the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which includes 6 sub-committees –notably: Aviation. The staffer told me about the language in the amendment and the Congressman who is proposing it and I smelled trouble instantly - which I explained to Rep. Mica’s staff member. Rep. Turner from Ohio is the former Mayor of Dayton – home of the National Museum of the US Air Force (NMUSAF). As many of you will recall, we were involved in a lawsuit with the USAF (spearheaded by the Museum) over the F-82, which we eventually lost; resulting in us shipping the airplane back to the NMUSAF, where it sits – permanently grounded. The reason we ended up in a lawsuit was due to the confusion over the Air Force’s “donation” of this airplane to the CAF in the early 70’s. The lawsuit went on for several years and we lost the suit and the subsequent appeal. I won’t get into the specifics of why, but it stems from confusion over the Air Force’s definition of “donation.”
While researching and preparing for the F-82 lawsuit, I looked into other aircraft that we have with this type of arrangement. Much to my surprise, this arrangement is similar with our most prized asset…our B-29 FIFI. FIFI is possessed by the CAF as a “Conditional Donation.” This means the airplane is permanently ours as long as we meet certain conditions of care for the airplane. Now this is the same type of language that the USAF uses for all of the aircraft you see on display at static museums around the country. The big difference is that we also have a subsequent agreement to allow the CAF to conduct flight operations with FIFI – and so we have for nearly 40 years. Well, when I was in Washington D.C. a couple of years ago, I met with the Colonel that oversees the history of the Air Force and all of their Museums. I told him that I was afraid that they were going to try to take FIFI away, as they were trying to take back the F-82. He said, “our lawyers have looked at the agreement with the CAF and they think that this agreement is too strong.” As you can tell by that sentence, it said to me….if we could take her back we would, but we think we would lose that legal battle. That was scary, but also comforting…until now. The only way that the USAF Museum could ground FIFI is by changing the law such that it is illegal to fly her.
Go back up and re-read the Amendment bolded above.
So, you will see and hear more from me, more formally and publicly, in the near future.
Back from Sun ‘n Fun (SNF) after a long but fruitful week – you may have seen the photos, but if not go back to the main page…Click Here This SNF was the most productive in CAF’s history. We had FIFI there for the first time and they flew Historical Flight Experience flights the entire week, usually 3 per day. One day was cut short by a necessary tire change, but they fit in the missed passengers on the following day. I have been at many shows with FIFI since she has been back flying and the evolution in their operations has been significant. Just a couple of years ago, the unit lacked a business plan and a cohesive crew and now it is a completely different story. They are a well-oiled machine that is focused and professional in every respect. The Red Tail Squadron was parked beside Hangar 57 and enjoyed strong crowds who experienced the power and emotion of the Rise Above film, by Adam White. I saw the 30 minute version for the first time and I found tears rolling down my cheeks. I have also just viewed another version of the 15 minute film, as I had not found the original to be as inspiring. However, Adam worked his magic on this 2nd version and it should be installed shortly. If you haven’t seen it, go to www.redtail.org, find a city near you that they are attending and go!
The Red, White &Loud concert was held on Thursday evening in the SNF Pavilion and it was a packed house, all the way out into the lawn. Although we prefer to do these shows in front of a CAF Bomber, sometimes we can’t do so, and this was the case here, as they have an outstanding Pavilion to host such events. I have to say that this was our best event to date and the crowd was amazing. When we have to do the show in a concert hall, we bring the CAF to the crowd by using a 90 second video of FIFI’s first flight, set to music (this was produced by CAF Col and B-29 PIC David Oliver) -
It is quite dramatic and it kicks off the concert with power. Then we start the concert portion using a music video of Aaron’s song “Ready to Rock” which he performs in synch, live, with his band. In this video he is flying his Stearman while singing and it is a very fun and unique way to start off the concert.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jo2nDHT-3Q ) During the concert we brought 3 Marines in uniform out, which brought the crowd to their feet – and also honored the VAC (Veteran’s Airlift Command) which takes care of wounded warriors by getting volunteer pilots to use their airplanes to transport the vets and their families to key medical and personal appointments. www.veteransairlift.org
The Florida Wing was a big help, exhibiting Allie Gator, their L-17 and also manning the membership table at Hangar 57 – thanks guys! So, the airshow season is off with a big bang for CAF! Next, I head out for a visit with the Invader Squadron on April 7th.
P.S. Yesterday was a sad day for CAF, with the loss of Col Howard Pardue who had been a member of the CAF for 34 years. Howard was a legend on the air show circuit and at Reno with his Bearcat. I had gotten to spend just a little time with him, but the universal impression seemed to be that this Marine was gruff on the outside, with a heart of gold on the inside. God Speed Howard.
March 25, 2012
On The Road Again
Headed to Sun 'n Fun today, the start of Air Show Season! It should be a great show for the CAF if we can avoid the Tornadoes which traumatized the ladies of Hangar 57 last year. The images described by Autumn of hanging onto the flap of the tent nearly horizontal are humorous now, but less so at the time. I seem to recall wine being the order of the day - that day! FIFI will be there for the first time in recent history- if at all. I'm not sure, but no one has regaled me with stories about " the last time we went to SNF..." The B-29 crew has already been on the road for 2 weeks and the early going has been very strong. Along with FIFI giving rides we will have the Helldiver, NCS's BT-13, FL Wing L-17 and the Red Tail Squadron's P-51. The RISE ABOVE Traveling exhibit will be educating the attendee with their film as well. And to cap all of that off, we have a CAF Red, White & Loud concert starring Aaron Tippin on Thursday night at the SNF Pavilion. So, this will be the strongest presence for CAF at SNF ever. If you are coming, lease stop by Hangar 57 on the Warbird Ramp. Also on Tuesday night there will be the annual CAF Member gathering. For info or directions, check the web or e-mail me email@example.com. Last weekend I went to th AZ Wing Hangar Dance which is an amazing event. I believe this is their 27th year and if you want to see how to run a fund raiser, go study that event. Well over 1000 people were there, many in period costume-civilian and military. Even General Patton was there! The event started at 4:30 and went until 11 p.m. Unlike many dance floors this one was packed as a 20 piece orchestra played big band music. I estimate as many as 300 kicking up their heals at one time. Photos in front of Sentimental Journey was a hit, complimented by a real life Betty Grable reenactor with the trademark blue bathing suit. So, if your unit is looking for a dynamic and fun way to raise money, look into this. I will give you updates from SNF. Come join in the fun!
We have all been recovering from a long and wonderfully productive weekend at Wing Staff Conference. Here is a quick recap and reactions we were able to measure: On Thursday, the Foundation, Flying Museum and Airpower Museum Boards met and all made good progress. The Foundation reported solid earnings above all of the indices that they benchmark against – earning a rate of return over 12%. The Flying Museum Board is now taking a very active role in managing the fleet, determining what airplanes we should have and which airplanes we need to try to acquire, through purchase or donation. Thursday night there was a Pizza reception with free beer and wine and the socialization that is bedrock to the CAF began. Friday morning kicked off with the General Staff meeting, where the Strategic Plan was again discussed and a good conversation on General Staff member communication internally – a very healthy discussion.
That afternoon was the kickoff of the official Wing Staff Conference. The fun began when Donna Blalack did the Unit Roll Call. This is a traditional start of WSC and we try to find funny ways to conduct this and often units find innovative ways to acknowledge their attendance. (Blastards and EOD typically stand up and holler BOOM! in unison – Coyote Squadron will howl….you get the drift) Donna also challenged herself and this year she played the role of Geography school-marm, utilizing a map of the US and going from East to West Coast in naming the units, instead of going the typical route; alphabetically. Unnoticed by the crowd, me and fellow staff members, Lindsey Pena (accounting) and Kristy Chambers (membership) slipped out and then made a grand entrance for the start of America’s Favorite Gameshow – CAF Jeopardy!! To digress, I had challenged HQ Staff to come up with new and fun ways to teach a dry subject. So, Unit Manual Jeopardy was born… and with it – Wink Chippendale and his trusty beautiful assistants; Wingnut and Eyebolt; and the dreaded curmudgeonly Da Judge! We selected 4 groups of 3 randomly and these 4 teams competed. Our Jeopardy Board was on a big screen and worked exactly like the board on TV. (An unbelievable job by Leah Block!)
The game was a big hit and we brought 4 new teams up for round 2. Everyone learned something on a dry topic and had fun doing so. Wink’s pink tux was a big hit and the girls were lovely (if not too bright) !
From there the breakout sessions began and were conducted until 5 p.m., whereupon the O’ Club was open! - followed by Dinner with the President. After a group dinner in the Commemorative Center Hangar, with a big screen backdrop of World War II cartoons, I got up on stage and answered questions for over an hour. The questions were very good and got everyone onto the same page. Unlike the past few years, the entire WSC was very low key, calm and fun. Several people expressed their appreciation that there was not the controversy and disruptive influences at this year’s WSC. I really enjoyed the exchange of information and had many positive comments.
After lunch the Chief of Staff Neils Agather stood up and discussed the Strategic Planning weekend that the General Staff (Board of Directors) had recently conducted and what direction they had given to the President . Col Agather reported that a new Statement had been added to the
Ends Policy, as 1c: “ The General Public in Houston, TX will have access to and experience a world class CAF educational aviation attraction by 2017.” Also added to the Executive Limitations as EL-7m. (The President shall not)”fail to have contingency plans in the event of the substantial cessation of CAF flight operations.” Following Col Agather, I gave the State of the CAF. This is something that I started within the first few months of arriving here, over 4 years ago; when I sent out the DVD to every single member. I updated the attendees on all aspects of the CAF, financially, operationally , safety, membership etc. (You can see a PowerPoint slideshow of the State of the CAF click here). They were very pleased by the news that the CAF was “ in the Black” financially for the first time since 2001. That was a big turnaround from the $500,000 deficit in year 2007; when I arrived – and the credit goes to you the membership to rising to the challenge!
After the update on the CAF, there was a briefing on the 100LL gas situation from Bob Stenevik, updates from new AIRSHO director Richard Meyer and the new CAF Airpower Museum Director Autumn Hicks. Bob let us know that things are not quite as dire with 100LL and he expects that an alternative fuel solution will be found – good news indeed! Richard told us about this year’s AIRSHO and his drive for more volunteers and Autumn told us about the exciting new programming that is being added as well as the new exhibits that are being unveiled in 2012.
Breakout session followed for the rest of the day and that evening the 3rd Annual CAF Hall of Fame banquet and ceremonies were conducted in the Commemorative Center and it was a full house as each of the 4 Inductees were honored. The emotion was high as a letter was read from Inductee Chuck Francis. Buck Ford, the son of “Tennessee” Ernie Ford gave a moving and humorous speech on behalf of his father and H.D. Butler was there to personally accept in his typically understated and modest manner. In all 4 cases, the video biographies produced of each inductee’s service to the CAF made it clear why the Selection Committee had made them their Honorees. See the Hall of Fame Video's Here. A contingent of diehard Colonels closed down the O’ Club late, but the Owls became the Eagles the next morning when we gathered for the final group meeting at 9AM Sunday. More and more Sunday has become a meeting that should not be missed. There a sharing of ideas on Fund Raising, Membership, Marketing and a host of other topics occurred between units. Facilitated by HQ Staff, the units revealed new fund raising ideas – new ways to get and keep members and philosophies on acquiring and retaining new members. Sunday is a hidden gem that should not be overlooked when making plans to attend.
THE ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENT I put this in bold, to be sure everyone read it. As you may know, I made it a requirement for each unit to send at least One (1) elected member of Staff to Wing Staff Conference annually. After this year’s meeting, I am more convinced than ever that this is the correct decision. First, I had multiple attendees walk up to me and exclaim,” I only came because we HAD to, but I am impressed and I am glad I came.” Units that had never attended WSC came for the first time and: a.) Had a lot of fun, b.)Learned a lot c.) Said that they would be coming back next year and bringing more Staff members.
I must say that the HQ Staff does an outstandingly professional job putting the event on and disseminating crucial information. So, start planning now, as the requirement remains – let’s get 100% participation next year!
Let’s Keep the CAF Flying!
February 9, 2012
On Monday, February 6th, the CAF again made great strides in our mission to educate and raise our national image and impact. CAF Red Tail Squadron Leader Brad Lang, Red Tail visionary Doug Rozendaal and I, along with Red Tail team members LaVone Kay, Marvona Welsh, Terry and Jeanette Hollis were all guests of Delta Airlines for a black-tie event honoring the Tuskegee Airmen in Atlanta, Ga. Staged within the Delta Air Lines Museum, this evening event was the centerpiece of Delta's celebration of Black History Month. The center of attention were the many Tuskegee Airmen and the CAF Red Tail Squadron's RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit. As you can see from the photos, the CAF Red Tail Squadron's logo was the back drop for all of the speakers, which included CAF Col Brad Land and Tuskegee Airman / USAF Col. Charles McGee and Ambassador Andrew Young. Many of Delta's executives and key employees were in attendance as well as the Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, and Elijah Kelly, one of the stars of the George Lucas film “Red Tails”. Col Lang did an outstanding job representing the CAF as he spent several minutes explaining our mission and our 154 airplanes, 70 units and 9,000 members. Lang and the CAF received a round of applause for the work that we do and have done in educating Americans through our airplanes. Col. McGee, the Honorary Spokesman of the CAF Red Tail Squadron was an inspiration as he highlighted the important issues that must be addressed in today's youth and how the Tuskegee Airmen and their example is something to be held up so that they can see what can be accomplished in the most adverse of conditions. Col. McGee is an amazing patriot, who still travels this country on behalf of the CAF and the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. into his 90's - far beyond what anyone would expect of him - but his passion is that strong!
After the speakers, dinner was served and the other star of the event, the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit was opened for attendees to view the seven minute version of the CAF's proprietary film, in the 180 degree theater. I watched the movie with several of the Airmen and they clapped heartily at the conclusion. It was rewarding to know that they felt our story did them justice and in turn, they were also inspired by the efforts of Don Hinz, Doug Rozendaal and the entire Red Tail Squadron to put this P-51C back into the air...twice! If you have not gotten the chance to go through the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, look for it in your area this year as it travels to 40 locations this year. http://www.redtail.org/exhibit/
It gave me great pride that Delta Airline chose to sponsor our participation in this event and that the CAF is performing our mission of education on ever-larger stages. Who could have thought 10 years ago that we could be in this position? Well, here we are - so let's all keep this momentum moving forward and...Keep the CAF Flying!
I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Dick Cole, Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot of the famous Doolittle’s Raiders recently and it was an amazing experience. Dick is now 95 years old and whatever he is drinking – I want some! He is as mobile as they come, over rocky terrain outdoors and his eyes as sharp as a 20 year old; only to be outdone by his memory. I was able to hear snippets of his story and was able to ask him details, including about bailing out of their B-25 at night over occupied China and getting hung up in a tree during a pouring rain storm. He hung there all night because he didn’t know how far off of the ground he was. Another fella listening asked if he slept while hanging in his parachute harness. Dick grinned and said “nope, I might have dozed a little bit, but didn’t fall asleep”. As dawn broke, he found that he was only 12 feet off the ground, so he scrambled down the tree, pulled down the chute and set out to find his crew mates, which were scattered over an estimated 20 miles. By nightfall they were all reunited and making their way towards safety.
As there are only 5 of the Raiders left, having this opportunity to speaking to a living legend was extraordinary. Someone who has been walking this earth for nearly a century and listening to him describe events that can usually only be read in history books or a novel, made my head swim. I got to learn about his family and when he heard someone close by remark that they had been going out with a girl about a month, he said, “What’s taking you so long? I got married 2 weeks after I met mine!” He went on to describe how a young girl had been out by the B-24 he was about to test fly and she stopped him. “I am learning to fly and want to go up in that airplane.” He explained that she couldn’t go on it, because it was about to be test flown. After he took off and climbed to altitude, guess who walked into the cockpit…? Two weeks later they were married - she was 19 and he was 29 and they were married for 58 years. He still carries 2 pictures of her in his wallet, which he showed us…
The entire experience took my breath away and made me thankful for the opportunities that are afforded by being a part of the CAF.
January 16, 2011
Well, it feels like I have just returned from a world tour after 13 days on the road. (I squeezed in a cruise vacation, but managed to avoid the boat with the navigationally-challenged Captain) During that time there has been some interesting things occurring. And as you know, if you tune in here, you will get the news before I publish it broadly.
First, the CAF finished in the Black (Profit) for the first time since fiscal year 2002 – so nine years of deficit spending has finally reached an end. It could not have happened without 2 things: First, a General Staff who knew that this type of financial management could not continue and had the temerity to make and allow changes and trust that these new changes would work. And most importantly, because of the members and the Unit Leadership who hung in there, improved their efficiencies and kept the faith that the new changes were for the best. We managed to finish the year ahead of budget, even with a large loss during AIRSHO, due to weather, so Congratulations to you all!
General Staff Strategic Planning Session
This weekend, the General Staff held a Board meeting in Dallas, where the new members assumed their role. The first day included training for the new members on Policy Board Governance, conducted by Barry Diamond of the Sandbar Group. Barry has been working with us for over three years and was brought on board by former COS Bill Coombes, after a recommendation from Doug Jeanes of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. This training is crucial in defining the Board members role and how they are charged with establishing strategic direction along with oversight of the CAF. The following day Neils Agather was re-elected as the Chief of Staff and after an update on the status of the CAF, the General Staff launched into an all-day Strategic Planning session, again led by Barry. By the end of a long day of work, the General Staff reached a unified consensus on a long-term strategy and direction for the CAF. It was rewarding and exciting and I know that Col Agather plans to share the Board’s direction at Wing Staff Conference. Another reason that you do not want to miss it!
Speaking of Wing Staff Conference, there was a letter that I sent out to Wing Leaders late last week, which made Wing Staff Conference an annual requirement for each unit to attend with at least one (1) of their elected Unit Staff members. This was unveiled in last week’s On the Fly, but the rationale letter was inadvertently omitted from On The Fly and the Unit Leader mailing. This rationale letter will be sent to Unit Leaders today, ( Click Here to View Letter) but in a nutshell; we operate 152 priceless assets which require safety and management. We also have volunteers and real estate assets in the thousands and millions respectively. Unfortunately, many units do not send representation to the Annual Training at Wing Staff Conference. This has resulted in ineffective management, unsafe practices and financial stress at the Unit level. As we have been doing over the past few years, we are increasing the Unit effectiveness and the overall organizational effectiveness through increased standards. As we call ourselves the Commemorative Air Force and we fashion ourselves to be part of a professional organization, we must understand the importance of training and standards. And if we are going to continue to be a viable and effective organization, we must increase both. This is neither new nor unheard of in the volunteer membership association world and it will ensure that all Units have the tools, to survive and thrive.
If you have questions or comments, please e-mail Steve Brown directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
January 1, 2012
Happy New Year CAF Colonels!
I hope everyone had a good holiday with their family - I know I did. My son Austin was home from West Point for the first time since June, so it was great to have him back in the house running here and there with his buddies and girlfriend - it felt familiar again. We launched on a 3200 mile road trip together on Christmas Day, where we visited my middle daughter and finally ended up in south Florida! Spending that amount of time with him gave me the ability to see how much he has grown, both naturally and due to the influence of the Military Academy. I was proud of him and proud of the job USMA is doing for him and all of our other young leaders who will defend our freedoms. Pride and fear for his safety are the emotions that course through me.
That amount of time in a car also gave me time to contemplate the year ahead. January will be a quick start with the Geroge Lucas movie, "RedTails" hitting theaters January 20th. I am hopeful, as we all should be, that this movie will be a big hit and that all things WWII Aviation become "hip"...as this will benefit us all. The CAF Red Tail Squadron Traveling Exhibit will be on the road all this year and beyond, converting the interest in thia movie to the opportunity to educate and impact people's lives. One of the first big visits is to Delta airlines Headquarters in Atlanta in early February where the Red Tail Squadron will be the focal point for their celebration of Black History Month.
At the end of February is the Wing Staff Conference, where we are looking to have 100% participation from the Units. It is impossible to expect for Volunteer Leadership to oversee this complex organization in the field without training. Therefore we are working very hard to develop programs which are educational, and fun. Additionally the 2nd annual "CAF's Got Talent" will be held to showcase the underlying performance skills that seems to reside within our membership! And the culminating point is the CAF Hall of Fame Banquet. So, with all of that, make this year the year you first decide to come or keep your annual tradition going - either way, you will be glad you came....and yes the O'Club will be open!
From there, the air show season kicks off in earnest in March, with Sun N' Fun, who has made a special effort this year to draw in more warbirds than ever, with the promise of fuel and amenities - so I hope we have the largest display of CAF aircraft in their history!
That and much more awaits us this year. With our KSI's to guide us and a successful 2011 behind us, I expect us to continue forward in a steep climb!
Let's keep the CAF flying in 2012!
If you have questions or comments, please e-mail Steve Brown directly:
December 20, 2011
A couple of weekends back, I was on the road at the ICAS (International Council of Air Show) annual convention. It was a very good show, although sad for the notable losses of air show pilots (as well as Reno spectators) in the past year.
Our booths and members continue to get noticed and commented upon for our positive and professional appearance of uniform booths and uniformed members. Many shows were booking our aircraft and all units were happy and working together. We are in negotiations with EAA and Sun N’ Fun to have a large presence at both this year. Stand by for more details.
We also booked our three civilian acts for AIRSHO 2012. The Aeroshell Team, Julie Clark and Indy Boys- Jet School Bus. All three of these acts will perform for a Night AIRSHO on Saturday as well.
A late development was the notification by NTSB that they plan to hold hearings on the Air Race and Air Show safety topic on January 10th. ICAS, EAA, AOPA and CAF, along with a few others were asked to testify. We are working on our testimony and Bob Stenevik will be our expert in the Box. We are coordinating with ICAS and the other aviation entities, such that we present a coherent and united front. (see email below) Again, we are at the table, controlling our destiny, as opposed to having others do this for us.
I also went to Sun N Fun for their Florida Air Museum and SNF Board meetings; respectively. It is good to be on the Boards of these organizations and ICAS, to keep our fingers on the pulse of aviation on a macro level.
November 29, 2011
Over the past 4 years I have gotten to become good friends with Aaron Tippin. And the reason is because I have gotten to spend so much time with him and to learn what a genuine man and patriot he is. I am proud to know him personally and proud to have him as our National Spokesman. Please click the link below to see how Aaron spent his Thanksgiving taking care of our Troops.
November 22, 2011
Giving thanks this Thanksgiving
As you may recall, we support the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) who make it their mission to provide private air transportation, through their volunteer network, to wounded warriors. I received an e-mail update from VAC Founder and President Walt Fricke today and was very moved as I read the following excerpt from Walt and clicked the link that was contained within – I ask you to do that now: (After you read her letter, scroll down to the next article (April 4th date) which has a photo of CAF Colonel Mike Gaston – in a familiar blue shirt – thank you Mike and other CAF members who dedicate their skills and aircraft to this noble cause.) And thank you Walt for founding and leading this wonderful organization, which shows the power and benefits of General Aviation.
“We arrived back in our office this morning to a note written by Megan Zimmerman, wife of a triple amputee, telling us what her husband’s recent travel was like without the involvement of the VAC.
PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO READ THIS LETTER (click on the link). It will sear an image that I hope you will not soon forget.” Walt Fricke
As all of you know and as I am constantly reminded, you don’t have to look far to be thankful in life. When things aren’t going my way and I happen to drift into self-pity, it is words like Megan’s and the sacrifice made by Jack that snap me back to reality to be thankful for the many blessings that I have. That is what I will focus on this Thanksgiving.
I spoke briefly to CAF Colonel and National Spokesman Aaron Tippin yesterday, just before he boarded a flight to Afghanistan for his annual trip to see the troops. Each year, for the past 10 years, Aaron has spent Thanksgiving in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan performing for and visiting our troops. It says volumes about Aaron and is a prime example of why we are honored to have him represent the CAF, as he does so well.
Besides my family and friends, I am thankful to be lucky enough to work for an organization and membership who make an impact in this world. Our mission is noble and just and beneficial to those that we reach. I read a quote years ago by Steve Jobs and I was reminded of it recently while reading his biography. When Apple was a young company, Steve Jobs lured away the CEO of a major cola company by saying, “do you want to spend the rest of your life selling colored sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” We may not impact everyday life like your iPhone or iPad does, but with our airplanes and our educational initiatives we have the opportunity to impact individuals profoundly…and I am thankful to NOT be selling anyone’s “colored sugar water”.
So thank you members of the CAF, for what you do and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.
Questions, Comments, Concerns? e-mail Steve directly at email@example.com
Good News on the Personnel Front!
Today we announced that Autumn Hicks has been promoted to the CAF Airpower Museum Director’s position. I am very excited about this and her promotion came as a result of her dynamic and visionary presentation to the Museum Board. They unanimously voted a recommendation to me to hire her into that role immediately; which I did. Autumn has come a long way since we hired her nearly 4 years ago. She has done an outstanding job handling the CAF Membership department and the Public Relations for the CAF. Autumn is a “go-to” member of the HQ Staff – and I have always been able to count on her to get the job done.
As a result of Autumn’s promotion, Kristy Chambers, who has worked in the Membership Department for nearly 6 years was herself elevated to the Membership Manager role. She has already taken the reins and is moving forward with speed, implementing improvements to our systems and new programs to grow and retain members.
Leah Block’s role has evolved as well. Leah started with CAF almost 4 years ago as the Merchandising and Gift Shop Manager and has grown our sales substantially in that time. Our products, services and operations have all improved in quality; resulting in greater sales. A year ago, Leah added to her role the Director of Creative Services and again the quality of those collateral materials and advertisements has improved; as well as The Dispatch Magazine; where she assisted the Editorial Team of Alyson Trevino and Marie Naughton. Since Aly and Marie (who have done an fabulous job evolving Dispatch over the past 6 years) have decided to relinquish the contract on producing The Dispatch magazine, Leah has stepped up again. Leah will turn over her daily duties in Merchandising and become the Editor in Chief of Dispatch; along with her continued role in Creative Services. Leah will continue to have a hand in Merchandising, from an oversight standpoint as she guides the new Merchandising and Gift Shop Manager - Kara Thurman.
Kara has worked at CAF for 2 years, in the Membership Department and her proven Customer / Member Service Approach made her the natural selection for this promotion.
When Clay Francell recently departed to “make his fortune” the Oil Field Service Industry, we knew we needed to fill those big shoes he left behind. Fortunately, Clay will continue on as a volunteer, as he did for many years before joining the HQ Staff. The guy with the big feet is none other than CAF Colonel / Utah Wing Leader Richard Meyer! Richard is a multi-year volunteer at AIRSHO and a 25 year Colonel. With 18 years as the Utah Wing Leader, his leadership skills with volunteers made him the perfect selection for this job. Richard and his wife Sandy will be relocating to Midland in early 2012. Added to Richard’s team is Gena Linebarger, who along with her volunteer role as Airsho Chairman, will assist us as an employee Contractor focused on AIRSHO and Event Sponsorships.
Gena will oversee Sponsorship, Chalet, Prime View, Wildcat Squadron and Fighter Squadron marketing and sales and we look forward to her energetic approach to yield profitable results!
As you can see, lots of exciting changes here and I am pleased to be able to “promote from within” the ranks of the current Headquarters Staff, who have proven their mettle; as well as a Colonel coming in from the field.
November 14, 2011
I am happy to announce that, effective January 1st, Richard Meyer will become the Director of AIRSHO and Special Events for the CAF. Richard is a 25 year CAF Colonel, Utah Wing Leader for 18 years and dedicated AIRSHO volunteer for the past 9 years. I am very excited to add Richard to our team and look forward to his leadership, enthusiasm and proven experience with volunteers. In addition to his leadership skills Richard is an accomplished film maker, A&P mechanic and photographer. We look forward to tapping into all of his many talents. He and his wife Sandy will be relocating to Midland.
This past weekend we had our Board meetings and all 4 Boards, plus the Finance Committee met. The meetings were very positive and productive. Our aircraft readiness rate continues to climb, with the goal of 90% set for the end of 2012. The report on the finances from AIRSHO was not good, due to the weather forecast for the entire week prior. Our local “weather guessers” got it right for once and since we are so starved for rain, they ballyhooed the incoming story with glee. Normally good news, led to terrible advance ticket sales and attendance, even though the reality was good weather by show time. Even with this financially disastrous event, the HQ Staff has done a great job in expense control and other additional income, to allow us to predict finishing very close to our budget projections. (in the Black)
The upcoming events beyond Thanksgiving include ICAS, where we will again have the largest single company presence with 12 booths combined in the “CAF Gauntlet”.
Also, Charlie Plumb will be coming to the Museum to speak December 3rd. It is an evening seminar with dinner provided. I hope you might attend the Seminar, or maybe consider purchasing tickets to donate to local active duty military or Viet Nam veterans who may not have the means to attend. Capt. Plumb is a riveting speaker.
This morning we received a $150,000 donation to start the search for an aircraft to form a CAF unit in Rhode Island. We have a need for more East Coast units and this new group of Colonels met with Bob Stenevik 2 weekends ago, after seeing our Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVETraveling Exhibit and speaking with Col Doug Rozendaal at AOPA’s Summit.
Below is a link to a great local news story in OK on both unit’s airplanes. Great press!
October 25, 2011
AIRSHO 2011- Part 2.... Read below....
October 10, 2011
I guess I should have bought a lottery ticket this week! For 1 solid year we haven’t had any rain to speak of - drought conditions, watering rations etc. And what is the week before AIRSHO?? Severe thunderstorms with hail possible and 3+ inches of rain – ugh!! The “thumb in the eye” was the forecast for the Monday after, sunny with mild temperatures – figures.
The local weatherman gleefully elaborated on all the rain we were going to get on the 10 p.m. news. He even commented, “I wonder when the air show will decide to cancel the show?” At 5:30 a.m. the next day, I saw the same weatherman broadcasting live from our hangar. I joked with him about his forecast, was that really necessary?…
But the forecast was off, as is often the case. We did have a big t-storm and rain come blowing thru about 4 a.m., but it was out and the rain was light by about 5:30 a.m.. The skies eventually cleared over the air show by about 11:30, but over Midland, the skies were still dark and as the attendance numbers from the gate would later show, the locals had listened to the weather man, or looked outside in the morning and had made their decision….not to come. BUT, there was a reasonable crowd and they got to see a Spectacular show…Now, I know that I am prone to hyperbole, but this was the smoothest AIRSHO in my history and I heard glowing remarks from every member I spoke with.
On Saturday morning we had our special guests, Craig Fuller (AOPA) John “Lites” Leenhouts (Sun N’ Fun) and Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) address all the CAF pilots assembled for Pilot Brief. All 3 of them spoke about important topics; Cong. Grave and Craig Fuller addressed the concerns of the different GA challenges ahead of us; from User Fees to 100LL Aviation Fuel. “Lites” made it known that SNF was welcoming warbird pilots with a new vigor and with promises of gas, rooms and cars – welcome news! The pilots were pleased to have these leaders on hand to talk and to listen to the good comments and questions from our CAF Colonels. One thing I do know – these aviation leaders left with a new found respect for the CAF and our Colonels!
(I have to head out for the Wings Over Houston Airshow, but I will write more about AIRSHO in the next couple of days…lots of good stuff to tell you about….Stand By!)
So, after the morning briefings, we headed out to weather that was clearing in the west and overcast in the East – meaning Odessa folks could see it was going to be nice and the Midland folks could not….the cloud line was splitting the airport in half! So, the show got under way to a very small crowd, which continued to grow as the weather improved. By 1 or 2 p.m., it was quite nice and sunny, but the damage had been done to the attendance base. The good news for the half-of-normal-size crowd was that they saw a great show, as evidenced by the photos on website. Tora was at the show in full force for the first time in several years, with its old partner, Texas Raiders back in the act! Ray Kinney and the P-40 were also involved and with 13 airplanes and massive pyro, it was quite impressive.
Where else in the WORLD can you go and see a B-29, a B-24, two B-17s and 4 B-25s in the air AT THE SAME TIME? Fighters filled the sky in the form of 2 P-51, a P-40, F8F and the real Zero. Heavy Navy iron was flown to include the SB2C and the TBM. It was ma
ssive, awesome and reason why we call this the Best Warbird Show in America. Fighters and transports, T-6’s and so much more demonstrated the breadth of the CAF to our crowd. The modern day military made a statement with the A-10 demo and the B-1 making high speed passes. After the flying we kicked off with Aaron Tippin and our Red, White & Loud Tour, which was our 5th concert, but first using FIFI as the backdrop to the stage. The crowd stayed on and enjoyed barbeque as they all rocked out to Aaron’s dynamic performance. If you haven’t seen him do his thing, it is worth catching him in concert(http://aarontippin.musiccitynetworks.com/index.htm?id=3577
) and if you see him, tell him you are a CAF Colonel – just like him. Aaron is now a qualified Co-pilot in the B-29 and a lucky few had him as their co-pilot for their ride flight! So, the air show and concert were a major hit with the audience that showed and we were proud and tired at the end of the day.
Sunday dawned, and it was time to do it all again. The Sunday sized crowd showed up after church and had nice weather to enjoy the day’s activities, which included everything except the concert from Saturday. A special bonus was the B-2 Stealth Bomber which did three beautiful and majestic passes down the show line. That was only my second time seeing this airplane and it almost makes you believe in Aliens when you see it fly. Nothing else looks, flies or sounds like it.
The wind down party arrived, after the post-show cleanup and the band and food (along with plenty of beer) made the atmosphere very enjoyable for our hardworking Volunteers and HQ Staff. A safe, fun and dramatic AIRSHO….let’s do it again!!! October 12-14, 2012 – mark it on your calendar and plan to be here. We have exciting news on our performers, already shaping up – stay tuned, you will hear it here in this Blog first!
September 29, 2011
Last weekend I went to the AOPA show and CAF had an important presence there with the Red Tail Squadron display. The team, lead by Doug Rozendaal was there and had a surprise visitor from Cuba Gooding, Jr. , one of the stars of the upcoming George Lucas film, RedTails! He was very excited and enthralled by the film. We got some great photos and it was another validation of the outstanding experience offered by the Red Tail Traveling Exhibit.
I got an opportunity to spend time with Craig Fuller and John Leenhouts, from AOPA and Sun N' Fun respectively. They, along with Congressman Sam Graves will be our special guests at AIRSHO, next weekend as we host a GA Rally on Saturday morning at the Commemorative Center. You don't want to miss the opportunity to visit with these leaders in aviation, especially in a time which is so threatened by governmental regulation and fees.
After AOPA ended I drove down to NYC and got up early to run in the Tunnels to Towers 5K Run, conducted in honor of Firefighter Stephen Stiller. On 9/11 Stiller ran in full firefighting gear from Brooklyn thru the Battery Tunnel and to the Twin Towers, where he ultimately perished. This is the 10th annual run and has grown to 30,000 participants. I found out about it because my son, along with 1800 other West Point Cadets participated. 32 school busses brought them down and I ran the race along side my son in the formation of cadets-a real thrill for Dad. A very moving moment came when the race was led out by Wounded Warriors from Afghanistan and Iraq. There was one amazing young man who was a quadruple amputee as he ran at the head of the pack. Very emotional for all of us. Seeing Tower One, which has now reached 1000 feet on its way to 1776 made me proud to be a citizen of a country which will not be bowed by terrorism.
The show is shaping up to be another great gathering and world class entertainment in the air AND on the ground with a B1 and B2 Bomber flybys, along with the largest collection of World War II bombers flying in years. Of course the added experience is the Red, White & Loud concert on Saturday afternoon. It is a very cool and moving sight to see Aaron Tippin and his band performing with FIFI as the backdrop.
Make sure you are coming! It will be great!
Sept. 9, 2011
Ay ya yay! As my friends and staff are reminding me, I have done a poor job keeping this up to date. Lots of travel in the past few months, but let me tell you what has been going on. Stand by for Brain Dump….
CAF in the News
We are still getting good press for the CAF in AOPA Pilot and EAA Sport Aviation. This month’s AOPA’s magazine has an article by Barry Schiff and he did a very unique and interesting article. EAA’s Sport Aviation did a pictorial on FIFI at Oshkosh and a focus on our 29 year old SIC David Oliver, who as a 13 year old, got his first flight in an airplane as with the EAA’s Young Eagle program. (David just became a PIC in FIFI, last week!) So, this interesting aviation story gave us another big exposure in their magazine (our 3rd instance in 3 months!) Also, Gunfighter is on the cover of this month’s Plane and Pilot. Larry Lumpkin (Lumpy) is pictured flying in a 4-ship dissimilar formation. No credit was given to the CAF, but our logo is prominently viewable in the photo. So, the CAF continues to shine in the aviation world.
Last week, I took a vacation week up in the North Woods of Wisconsin – one of my most relaxing weeks in years. But on my way there, I met with Rod Hightower, the new Chairman / President / CEO of EAA. Rod is a great guy and has big shoes to fill with the retirement of Tom Poberezny. But Rod has a very gregarious and outgoing personality which, combined with his extensive business experience, will serve the EAA well. We spent 3 ½ hours together talking about a multitude of things, including some ideas he was generous enough to listen to regarding CAF’s participation in AirVenture. He was very open to some creative ideas and quite determined to increase the impact of warbirds at AirVenture. Welcome words to my ears, as you might imagine. What you may not realize is that, Rod has been a CAF Colonel since 2008 and he owns a Stearman and T-6. So, we have a CAF member at the helm of EAA – Nice!!! I had previously reported that Rod would be at AIRSHO this year, but I just received a note that a conflict has appeared, that he just can’t miss. So, I put in my invitation to him for next year!
I reported recently that an AOPA Town Hall meeting hosted by AOPA President Craig Fuller would be held on Saturday morning of AIRSHO. I have now received a confirmation that Congressman Sam Graves R-Mo will also be in attendance and make an appearance on the panel. Stand by for additional announcements of more special guests at this unique event.
This odd title refers to a requirement in 2012 for all units to be utilizing QuickBooks for their Unit Financials. Our Audit each year continues to take more and more time and cost more and more money ($60,000+) Part of this is due to the ever increasing requirements by the government in our tax filings, but also due to the time it takes for our Accounting Staff to get accurate financial reports from the units. Floyd Houdyshell and his Staff travel quite a bit in the first few months of each calendar year and they find varying levels of quality in reporting. By requiring the units to utilize QuickBooks, this will make everyone’s job easier and more accurate – especially the unit’s! People get scared at the prospect of using this software, but I learned how to use it when I started a business out of my living room in 2003. I am no software genius, by any stretch and I found it easy and intuitive. We will provide support (better than my 30 minutes instruction from my Accounting firm: Dewy, Cheatham and Howe!) But, we can’t keep doing things with a stubby pencil.
Jeff Wood – Museum
This week Jeff Wood informed me that he was resigning as the Museum Director to go into business for himself. He explained that he had been contemplating this for a while and had some unique and urgent entrepreneurial opportunities arise. Jeff has done a great job under difficult circumstances and held the Museum together and progressed it after the turmoil of 2010. Despite the naysayers, Jeff implemented 3 new displays and ensured the State Funding for the next 2 year cycle. I appreciate his steady hand and leadership and wish him and his wife Cynthia well.
Shirts Added to the Look of Uniformity
Part of what I do with this Blog is to give the reader some insight into the things coming up, ahead of the formal announcements. One of those is the addition of 2 shirts to the National Look of Uniformity. The first is a lighter color of button down shirt. The “Stone” (cream) color that you have seen in the catalog. It is a color that I often wear for more “formal” occasions where I am representing the Organization. The second shirt is a less formal version of our standard Blue shirt. It is the same color Blue, but it is the Polo- style soft collar shirt. It looks very good, , but is a more comfortable. So, now Colonels will have 3 options to choose from.
I have noticed some units developing their own unit shirts, but I want to caution you that we need to all work from the same base uniform shirt and then add the unit individuality around the national shirt…not unlike all military groups. The Air force has the same base uniform, but then has unit patches or scarves to differentiate the different squadrons / wings. We need to mirror that type of logic.
July 31, 2011
That's the first thing that comes out of my mouth this Sunday morning. It may sound over the top, but it is nearly impossible to encapsulate the progress that CAF has made in one week. We have literally leapt forward in so many ways....I will do my best to recap it and hopefully convey the spirit to you.
CAF RED TAIL SQUADRON
On Thursday we had a special VIP visitor to the CAF Red Tail Squadron Traveling Exhibit - George Lucas - the famous movie maker, of American Graffiti and Star Wars Fame. His company, ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) does many of the CGI for movies needing these digital effects. His company Lucasfilm LTD also makes movies. One of the movies that he has been producing, which we are aware of and have been quietly talking to his team is entitled; "Red Tails". Mr. Lucas came to AirVenture to debut the movie trailer and gauge the reaction of an aviation crowd. But, he also toured the entire site on Thursday and we had been notified that he would be stopping by the Rise Above exhibit at 11:30. Right on time, he arrived with several others from his company. Brad Lang and Doug Rozendaal and I presented the CAF and the Red Tail Squadron to him in words and b showing him key parts of the original film, produced by Adam White. His comment to us after seeing the first cut of the movie was, "we were made for each other." Obliviously very exciting to hear from him. We spent the next hour talking with him and his team, learning about his philosophy in the entertainment aspect of his movie and the educational aspect of our Red Tail Squadron. So, we will continue to communicate with them to see how we might associate further. That evening we all went to the Ford Outdoor Theater in the campground to watch the preview of Red Tails and it was quite impressive. Mr. Lucas said that there was one hour of dogfighting in this movie and that it is an action film, in his personal introduction. The crowd liked it so much, they showed it twice!
But, the most important thing that came out of the first week of the Red Tail Squadron's Rise Above Traveling Exhibit was the recognition that this type of professionalism and presentation is the future of the CAF. Through this type of educational format, we will perform our education mission nationwide and the Red Tail Squadron is leading the way.
On Friday, the long awaited flight of FIFI occurred as the big finish to the air show. She had been parked all day, tail to tail, with the 787 Dreamliner - Boeing of the past and the future. So, FIFI generously shared the limelight that day, but the lines for PX and cockpit tours stayed steady and strong all day (and every day). So, when she was towed out of show center, we had many questions at Hangar 57; "when is FIFI flying"? So she took to the air and did a great high speed pass along the crowd line and then came across high and perpendicular as the bomber for the Wall of Fire. It was spectacular! All week long the B-29/B-24 Squadron has had phenomenal support form members in the field, along with those that flew out as crew. And they needed it, because of the long lines to get into the cockpit and the myriad of PX items they sold. Even without the availability of ride flights, the economics proved successful and the exposure to the public was a home run. Everyone wanted to see her and everyone left knowing who owns and operates her - the Commemorative Air Force!
The West Texas Wing's SB2C was the poster boy of AirVenture 2011. On every brochure, map, program, credential bag....and the list went on. So, the Beast with her new paint job, flying formation with an F18 in the same WWII paint scheme was everywhere. The SB2C and the Dixie Wing's SBD were featured on the CP Plaza, next to FIFI, as a part of the celebration for the Naval Centennial of Flight. So, at that time we had 5 airplanes on the CP Plaza! (Red Tail P51 and So Cal Wing Zero) To top it off, the SB2C flew the Legacy flight with that same F-18 for the Saturday air show, recreating that now-famous photo.
AOPA and EAA Presidents are coming to AIRSHO 2011!!
I was able to confirm at this show that both presidents from AOPA and EAA will be our guest at AIRSHO this year. There will be an AOPA Town Hall meeting on Saturday morning right after the air show performers briefing. So, we will have an opportunity to expose our organization to two of the key leaders in the aviation industry; both of whom fight to protect our privilege to fly our warbirds. Please come and make them feel welcome and also the members of their organizations who come to hear them speak AND see our air show!
CAF Red White and Loud Tour
We produced our third concert with Aaron Tippin, on Saturday, and it was a huge hit. The crowd was 5,000+ and spilled outside the Theater in the Woods. Aaron got the crowd revved up and when he stripped off his flight suit, revealed a CAF logo’d t-shirt, which stood out on stage and on the big screens stationed around the theater. He talked about the CAF and or mission and we showed a special FIFI video, produced by Col David Oliver, with the first flight of FIFI; set to dramatic music. The concert was an unqualified success!
….and everything else!
Besides those highlights, we had all 4 Mustangs here, three of which were flying rides. Devil Dog worked closely with the TV series “The Aviators” and will be featured in the next season. Lady Liberty was here on display. The West Houston AT-6. The WI Wings won an award for the 4th straight year. James Martin’s Member-owned Beech 18 won Best Transport. FIFI won Best Bomber. The So Cal Zero was a big star on the ConocoPhillips Plaza……and I am certainly forgetting someone. But having this much representation is a great problem to have.
Finally, I have to thank and recognize all of the members who volunteered their time, efforts and expenses to come to this show and display our aircraft, stand in Hangar 57, take pictures and all of the myriad of things that it takes to exhibit at an airshow. Thank you!!
I hope all of you will come to AIRSHO, because the Red, White & Loud Tour starring Aaron and FIFI will be there along with a full 11 ship Tora show and over 50 CAF aircraft; not to mention outstanding front line military aircraft. Come to Midland October 7-9, 2011.
The CAF Was Flying at AirVenture Oshkosh 2011!!
July 27, 2011
As nice as the weather was on Tuesday it dawned exactly the reverse on Wednesday. Heavy rain and cool temperatures greeted us as we opened a soggy tent. Ponchos, fleece and hoodies were the sales favorites in Hangar 57, as you might have guessed. And the forecast provided for a 2 hour respite before the stronger storms hit that night! A tough forecast for the Member Gathering~which led me to cancel one of our kegs of beer. (This became important later)
Meanwhile the Editor in Chief of AOPA Pilot, Tom Haines interviewed Aaron and me in the cockpit of FIFI for AOPA Live TV. Due to the cramped conditions, Tom had to be a contortionist to interview us, as you can see from the photo. Thru the magic of editing, the shot of him in the piece will not show this, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing behind the scenes.
The SBD and SB2C we're both on the ramp close to FIFI, to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation. That made a total of 5 CAF aircraft at show center! We were looking good! FIFI continued to be the star, even with tough weather and did great revenue through PX and cockpit tours.
Devil Dog and the A-26 Lady Liberty were down in the Warbird area and both were looking good and crowd favorites as well.
The weather gods smiled upon us and the rain cleared out to blue skies, as predicted, but the better news was that the heavy rains expected did not develop and the Member Gathering was a big success, with over 160 attendees. As in the past these gatherings result in wonderful fellowship. Unfortunately, I forgot that I canceled the extra beer and ran out, just a little too early. But thanks to my good friends at Fratellos, the Colonels didn't remain "dry" for too long.
The CAF is Flying High at Airventure Oshkosh!
July 26, 2011
Perfect air show weather dawned today with nice temperatures, cool breezes and blue skies. Which is what was required for the arrival of the Queen of the Fleet! After answering the same question hundreds of times in the past 24 hours, the question of, "when is FIFI arriving" was answered as she passed high overhead with four CAF Mustangs flying formation with her. Accompanying all of them was the EAA Photo plane which took dramatic shots, with the Airventure grounds in the background.
As FIFI did a low pass, the Mustangs peeled high right and proceeded to land as FIFI majestically flew solo down the crowd line. After a flawless landing, she pulled up to the throat of the West ramp and shut down. As the last blades came to a stop, the crowd broke into spontaneous applause.
Aaron Tippin was in the Bombardier's seat and stepped out beaming. I welcomed the entire crew and David Oliver delivered a victory whoop from the Co-pilots window after a greasy smooth landing of FIFI at Oshkosh~where 20 years earlier he had taken his first flight as a Young Eagle.
As we towed her up the Conoco Phillips Plaza, the crowd grew and pressed forward~so much so, that it was difficult for the crew to off load the gear. But they quickly set up the PX and started sales and organized the cockpit tours.
Sixteen years after her last appearance, FIFI had returned~and she is the STAR!
The CAF is flying at Oshkosh!
Ps. Tune in tomorrow to see how the CAF participated in the Centennial of Naval Aviation.
July 25, 2011
Oshkosh 2011!!!!! And this is going to be a big year for the CAF. We arrived to find that all of the major EAA AirVenture graphic materials had a CAF aircraft involved. Mainly the West Texas Wing's SB2C, in formation with the Navy's F-18; both in the same paint scheme. With the Centennial of Aviation for the Navy, this amazing photograph has become the theme for the event. On top of that the AirVenture issue of EAA's membership magazine Sport Aviation, was published with FIFI on the cover and an 8 page feature article inside. (To see it go to www.sportaviationonline.org)
We drove over to find Hangar 57 which was set up in a different location than the past two years - in the Southeast corner of ConocoPhillips Plaza (formerly Aeroshell Square) which is right at a junction of very heavy foot traffic. Set up about 100 feet west was the brand spanking new CAF Red Tail Squadron's RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit. I was able to meet Terry and Jeanette Hollis, who are the new full time drivers/operators of this highly impressive exhibit. I was able to sit down and watch the inspiring film produced by Adam White - Rise Above. There are two versions, but we are showing the shorter version for this crowded show. Besides the formidable inspiration, this 180 degree screen delivers some flying sequences that give you the perfect experience that the pilot feels - and it is breathtaking. The exterior graphics, along with the film make this a very impactful and professional presentation of the CAF which accomplishes our mission - education, using the lessons of the past; the Tuskegee Airmen.
In between Hangar 57 and the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit was room to put the Red Tail Mustang Tuskegee Airmen and So Cal Wing’s Mitsubishi Zero! So that section of the Plaza is a CAF bonanza....and it only gets better. Tomorrow is the big day that so many of us and the attendees are waiting for - FIFI Arrives! FIFI will arrive with Aaron Tippin on board and escorted by four P-51's. CAF's Gunfighter, Red Nose, Man o' War and CAF member-owned Rebel (Col Doug Mathews). She will arrive at the beginning of the air show and with the weather bringing in huge crowds already, she will receive a hero's welcome back. (FIFI last appeared here in 1995.) After landing she will be placed at show center - where this priceless treasure of aviation belongs.
Along with those airplanes, the SB2C arrived, Devil Dog, and Lady Liberty. Also the Wisconsin Wing's PT 26 was featured this morning at Warbird's in review...and I know more are coming. Tune in tomorrow for photos and the description of the day's activities. Click here for the daily updates page. The CAF is definitely flying in Oshkosh!
Have a question or comment, e-mail Steve directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 15, 2011
I just came off the road from our second Red, White & Loud Tour stop, with Aaron Tippin. The B-29 and B-24 were each unavailable for this show, so we went to the bullpen and got an outstanding relief pitcher with the B-25 Show Me from the Missouri Wing.
Aaron met up with the Missouri Wing in St. Charles and conducted currency training and then flew with the airplane the next day, co-piloting a significant amount of the six hour flight. He and PIC Greg Vallero landed in Rifle on Thursday, along with the rest of the crew around noontime and were hit by a rain shower shortly thereafter. (That is significant, since the Midland crew had trouble recognizing this water falling from the sky.)
Following some media events and interviews, the entire group sought out the best steak in town. Ironically, we were pointed to a Thai / Chinese restaurant downtown. Amazingly enough, the local reviews were on the money! We all agreed that the steaks (and the Pot Stickers) were outstanding!
This show was a Friday / Saturday show, so Friday was spent trying to sell rides, in and amongst heavy rain and t-storms that rolled through, off and on all day. We did sell one full ride, which Aaron flew to the surprise and delight of the passengers. I also spent time on the announcer’s stand with Rob Reider promoting rides and the Saturday afternoon concert.
Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. we were all out positioning the aircraft and helping to assemble the stage, which is nestled up to the airplane. This is all done very carefully, to insure no inadvertent damage to the airplane and all went according to plan. It is quite a dramatic set and it is also interesting to work with Aaron and his band staging a show. Aaron comes across as such a “good ol’ boy” that sometimes you forget that he is a country music star and to get to that level you really have to know what you are doing. That comes across very clearly, when you get to work with Aaron and his band, like I have had the good fortune of doing – they are all total pros!
Unlike Friday, the weather totally cooperated and the skies were beautiful and the temperatures mild, so it was a perfect day for an airshow and a concert. At 2:30 p.m., I warmed up the audience and brought out Aaron to a rowdy and full audience. The B-25 made a spectacular backdrop, with puffy white clouds and the Rockies in the background. The show promoter and all of the local county VIP’s that sponsored this show were very happy with the concert and the attendance.
Michael Blair and Nelson Garrison were on hand to talk about the Veteran’s Airlift Command (VAC) who we support with the Red, White & Loud tour. Michael was a Marine severely wounded by an IED in Iraq in 2006 and has had 60 surgeries on his legs, in order to save them. Michael is a testament to all of the assistance that the VAC has given to making it possible for him and his family to make the number of trips required for his care – all at no cost to Michael. (for more info, go to http://www.veteransairlift.org/ )
After the show ended, Aaron signed autographs for all of the fans assembled and then he and the band got on the bus to head to Massapequa, NY – a 40 hour drive – yikes! But, there they put on a show Tuesday, with a flag from 9/11 as a backdrop. It is great to be associated with a patriot like Aaron.
I can’t thank the Missouri Wing and particularly the crew of Show Me, who came to our rescue on short notice, enough. The entire crew pitched in on every project, from stage set-up, to tear-down – whatever needed to be done. They were all class acts and a fabulous reflection on the CAF. Thanks guys!
Speaking of Red, White & Loud, I hope that you will plan to make this year to AIRSHO. Along with a bomber heavy show and a new format, including some cool Heritage flights, we will have a Red, White & Loud concert at 4:30 p.m., Saturday; immediately following the air show. The concert will be held outside of the Commemorative Center hangar, with FIFI as the concert backdrop and there will be a barbeque dinner, within the hangar. Come see it, it’s included in your AIRSHO ticket (the concert, dinner is extra).
EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh is just around the corner and we will have a huge presence on ConocoPhillips Plaza (formerly Aeroshell Square) FIFI, The Red Tail Squadron with their new RISE ABOVE Travelling Exhibit and Hangar 57 will all be there at show center. (The So Cal Wing’s Zero may also be there.) Additionally, all four of the CAF’s Mustangs will be there, three of which will be flying rides out of Fond du Lac. The SB2C, SBD, PT-26, AT-6 and many member owned aircraft will be on display throughout the Warbird area. The Red, White & Loud Concert will be held Saturday night at the Theater in the Woods. Come dressed in the CAF Look of Uniformity to support Aaron and CAF’s Red, White & Loud Tour. Let’s show our pride of being CAF Colonels!
Let’s Keep the CAF Flying!
June 23, 2011
Last weekend I got to travel to see one of our largest units and one of our smallest units. Both provided a wonderful experience: Dixie Wing and the Carolinas Wing.
At Dixie Wing I was able to meet with the Staff and some of the senior members. We were able to new exchange ideas and find solutions to existing issues.
After that I participated in their weekly Bingo game. DW is licensed in the state of GA to conduct Bingo operations and their members run the entire operation at their hangar. There is a growing constituency of regulars who come in “ready to rumble”, with multi-color “daubers” …(where did daubers come from anyway? I never heard that term before bingo!) Well, the DW salesmen saw me coming – and I got loaded up with sheets which equated to me playing 16 cards at a time! Ugh, even my newly purchased Dauber wasn’t helping me get to all of the numbers. They gave 25 seconds between numbers and that was just not enough time for me…let me tell ya. After the 3rd of 6 games, the pressure was too much – I had to bail out of there. I’d rather jump off a mountain with a hang glider on my back, than play 16 cards of bingo, all while 50 women SERIOUS about bingo surround me. I noticed that I was one of the few men and the only person with my CAF shirt on. DW Staff member and Bingo Law Enforcement Officer Jimmy Dunagan whispered into my ear….”You better not win, with that shirt on, or we will have trouble.” When a man with a concealed weapon is afraid of the repercussions of the Bingo crowd, it is time to move on!
My next visit was to the Carolina Wing at their local airport, close to the famous Pinehurst golf course. The airport conference room was a perfect environment to discuss the issues relating to getting their airplane back in the air, increasing their pilots and membership. They have a beautiful and newly repainted AT-19, in an RAF scheme, but are experiencing a shortage of qualified pilots. So, we came up with a game plan and they are off and running.( Photo is Wing Leader Eileen Malan and Ops Officer Star Braistef) (Other photo is their hangar which once held Amelia Earhart’s airplane) It was great to visit with both of these enthusiastic units.
As you can see by the photos I made my second trek across the Grand Canyon with my good friend, CAF Colonel Greg Hiser. Greg owns Aircraft Capital Insurance, which is CAF’s Agent for all of our aviation and corporate liability insurance. What was different this year was taking Greg’s 21 year old daughter Amanda and my 18 year old son, Austin along to complete the 28 mile trek. We left at 5 AM and emerged about 11 hours later – worn out but proud. Austin added the extra difficulty of doing the trek in his Army boots - good training for his upcoming life; which kicks off in 4 days.
As you probably read in OTF, Mark Novak resigned as the Chief of Staff from the General Staff in order to take a HQ staff position as Director of Operations and Chief Pilot for the CAF. Mark did a fabulous job as a volunteer Board Member / Chairman and led us through some recent turbulence with calm and strength of character. Those same attributes will be crucial to his success in this new position as an employee. We are excited to have him aboard and he will lead to the continued improvement and performance of our fleet!
Let’s Keep the CAF Flying!
June 9, 2011
It has been a busy, joyful and painful few weeks here. First, like many of you, I have been celebrating the end of a school year and in my case the end of an era in my life. The last of my 3 kids graduated from High School and will be heading out to college very shortly. As I have bragged about mercilessly, my son Austin is headed to the USMA at West Point. They start early (June 27th) in order to put them through “Beast Barracks” a 6 week basic military training course, prior to the start of formal classes. So, we had the big celebration with all of the family members that usually attend such events, with an added bonus of former First Lady Laura Bush as the Commencement Speaker. She graduated from Midland's Lee High School and was quite an entertaining treat to listen too. So, now I face an empty house and the question which many of you have faced…what do I do now?! But, it will be fun to pick up new hobbies and activities and to focus on getting back into flying. I have become a Flying Sponsor on the T-28 and I am looking forward to becoming a true warbird pilot!
The heartache came with the passing of Amanda Franklin. It is a rare person who impacts so many people, virtually everyone they touch; but that was Amanda. She truly wore her joy for life around her like an aura and when she and Kyle cornered me at the ICAS show 2 years ago, it was virtually impossible to turn down her request for them to perform at AIRSHO 2010…so they did and we were the better for it. One of the most dramatic photos in the air show industry came out of that show; with her on the wing and the wall of fire behind them. I can still see her, with dozens of CAF Colonels crowded around her at the O’Club. She was proud to be a CAF Colonel and could handle the camaraderie of the O’Club with great presence and fun loving spirit. Her funeral was 2 days ago and I was conflicted about my inability to attend. I had long-planned and important meetings in Houston, which could not be missed. So, I contributed to her medical bills and in a note to Kyle and gave him my prayers and condolences. I know that the medical bills he faces must be extraordinary, so encourage you to contribute what you can to help him (Click here to go to ICAS Foundation Page). Seeing someone that inspired, struck down so young, is truly befuddling and heartbreaking.
Prior to my visit to Houston, I was able to make it to the Reading Air Show, which is a warbird only air show, with spectacular participation by re-enactors. I had heard about this show for years and was dying to go and was immediately impressed by their organization, just getting attendees from the remote parking on the other side of the airport. Busses were coming by at frequent intervals to pick us up and at the end of the show, the very long line moved rapidly due to a large number of school busses on hand to accommodate us. Immediately upon entry you are struck by the French village facades which greet you and the numerous soldiers, of all types, friend and foe sauntering about. Also, “civilians” in period dress strolled amongst the crowd. We had great representation of CAF airplanes: FIFI, Red Nose, L-5 from the National Capital Squadron, SB2C and SBD were the ones I saw, although I may have missed others. I ran into the Delaware Valley Wing on the way out and they were doing a booming business in dog tags and other merchandise.
The airplanes were all doing a booming business in rides and the B-29 had its best week ever. The early reports were as many as 18 loads of passengers for FIFI, plus the PX was hopping. All of the other ride airplanes were very happy with their sales and it was an unqualified success. They were lots of great ideas I brought home and I congratulate the Mid Atlantic Air Museum on a wonderful event!
I launch tomorrow for the Grand Canyon - Part Deux, with son Austin, COL Greg Hiser and his daughter Amanda; in an attempt to cheat death again. Immediately following I will be visiting the Dixie Wing and the Carolinas Wing – can’t wait to see all of them and if you are in the area, please stop in!
· Dixie Wing – June 16th 1700 – 1830hrs (Bingo at 1830!)
· Carolinas Wing – June 18th 1130-1330 hrs
Have a comment? E-mail Steve directly:
5/28/2011 - BLOG
I awoke before dawn today, unable to sleep for some reason, so I checked my phone and found the notification from Kyle Franklin that his wife Amanda had passed away last night on the 76th day since their accident.
I had been reflecting on her amazing spirit in the past few days since learning that Amanda was losing her fight.
In the past two out of three years, our AIRSHO has had Franklin's Flying Circus perform. So I had the pleasure of getting to know Amanda, Kyle and her brother Matt Younkin. All three of these young people were a pleasure to be around as they rose quickly in the air show industry which had claimed both of their fathers simultaneously.
It was this tragedy from which the amazing love story of Kyle and Amanda emerged. I marveled at how these two worked so closely together and traveled so many weeks from show to show. They pumped some real energy into the industry as they invented the Pirated Skies theme. We liked it so much that we focused our entire 2010 CAF AIRSHO around them and the Pirate theme. I remember standing next to Kyle fully dressed in his costume at 5:30 a.m. ready to go on TV to promote AIRSHO, while he let Amanda sleep, to be rested for her performance on the wing. His caring for her was evident then, as it has been through his moving words to all of us, each day; as he stood vigil and championed Amanda's care over the past 76 days.
To be around Amanda was an amazing experience. She had the unique ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the world as she stared you right in the eye when speaking. She always had a good time and was very comfortable with her beauty. She would dress up as a pin up girl or a USO girl and pose for calendars. And atop the Waco biplane, there was nothing more dramatic than her pose backwards with her sword drawn and crossed with Kyle's as they passed low in front of the crowd and a wall of fire erupted behind them. She looked like a Superhero and it remains the most breathtaking air show photo I have ever seen.
Most of all, Amanda was as sweet as she was beautiful. She was an All-American girl on the road with her All-American boy - living their dream. A dream that was cut so tragically short that it has rallied an entire industry and has impacted us all profoundly and beyond words.
There is no comfort in the fact that Amanda will remain for ever young and beautiful as we remember. But I am personally comforted to know that her pain has ended. Only our pain remains as we struggle to make sense of this and focus our love and support on the Franklin and Younkin families.
God Bless you and keep you Amanda.
5/18/11 - BLOG
If you caught the CAF press announcement, we received a huge advancement in our education programs recently. Texas Flying Legends Museum, which is a new warbird organization, out of Houston, made a $1 million donation pledge to fund the CAF Rise Above Traveling Exhibition. This will be housed in a 53 foot double pop-out trailer. The key exhibit will be a 30 seat theater housed within, which will show a film educating the attendees on the Tuskegee Airmen and their struggles - and then tying it back to 6 Rise Above Principles and how those principles can be used in our lives to “rise above” our own unique challenges. Doug Rozendaal was key to this donation and his passion and Vision shown through to these donors, such that they acted in rapid fashion – way to go Doug!
The exhibiton is under construction and the film is in production – with the plan to debut at AirVenture Oshkosh. We are already in discussions with EAA and they are very excited to have it debut there.
Speaking of Oshkosh, if there is ever a year to attend – this is it! The reason I say this, is because of the impact that CAF will have on the premier aviation event of the year. FIFI and Hangar 57 will both be at show center (Conoco Phillips Plaza) for the entire week and multiple other significant CAF aircraft at AirVenture as well. The So Cal Wing’s Zero, the Redtail Mustang and many others. (If you plan to take your aircraft to OSH, please let my office know – Donna Blalack: email@example.com ) Also, we will be having the annual CAF Member Gathering at FLYING Magazine’s Aero Club. This has grown to be a great event and happening, where you can meet CAF Colonels from around the country, along with other aviation luminaries, govt officials, performers….you just never know who you will see. So, if you are coming, please let me know so that we have enough food and beer (great Microbrews from our friends at Fox River Brewing Company) for everyone. (firstname.lastname@example.org )
The weekend prior to AirVenture Oshkosh will be a General Staff and CAF Foundation Board meeting, held at the Wisconsin Wing, in Waukesha WI. This will be the 2nd year of holding the July meeting at an outside location. Last year we received a warm welcome by the host unit, the Minnesota Wing. The Wisconsin Wing has stepped up this year and we look forward to visiting them in their new hangar. If you would like to attend (these meetings are all open to the membership), they will kick off on Friday July 22nd and continue until Noon on July 23rd. Contact HQ if you would like more information to attend.
Upcoming is an event that I am looking forward to attending for the very first time – The Mid Atlantic Aviation Museum’s Reading Air Show. (I always enjoy going back to my old college stomping grounds in PA!) It is quite the warbird show as I understand it and we will be strongly represented by CAF aircraft including the B-29, SB2C and others….which I don’t recall at the moment. At any rate I am looking forward to attending and representing in CAF Blue (Look of Uniformity) – so, look for me if you are there and say Hello!
April 27, 2011
In the past few weeks we have had some good stuff happening –so, I am finally going to catch you up!
- The first Red White and Loud Tour stop, in Laughlin, Colo., came off without a hitch….Ok; it did have one big hitch – the Weather. After a wind and dust storm across Texas and the entire West kept FIFI on the ground on Launch Day, (Thurs.) she was able to launch Friday, but only got as far as Tucson, Ariz. on Friday. After 2 days there, she finally made it to the Legends Over the Colorado Fly In around Noon on Sunday.
The previous evening Aaron performed his concert, inside the Aquarius Casino. Laughlin Nevada NEVER has rain…until I come to town, ugh! So, the Amphitheater was out and the Ballroom was in. But, that was Ok, because 1,200 people squeezed in and had a fabulous time rocking out with Aaron’s dynamic performance. We started the concert with a 2 minute film produced by CAF COL David Oliver (link here) and this dramatic opening got the crowd revved up for the show. Towards the end, we brought up the Veteran’s Airlift Command to talk about the mission they provide to our wounded warriors, which crowned a very patriotic evening.
After FIFI arrived on Sunday, the crew did a stellar job getting her ready to fulfill all of the remaining riders who had lingered for several days for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. They managed to do 3 flights that afternoon, (and one flight Monday) even after the runway was temporarily closed for a T-34 gear-up landing. As we all walked away at sunset on Sunday, there were many emotionally satisfied riders of the lovely FIFI.
In addition to FIFI, we had several other very significant airplanes from 2 CAF units~the So Cal Wing and the Rocky Mountain Wing.
From So Cal we had their Mustang, recently obtained in a lease. It was the first time I had seen her and she was quite the beauty. Next was the Mitsubishi Zero and finally was the Spitfire Mark XIV, another leased airplane just out of a brilliant six-year restoration. All three of these airplanes flew many times Saturday and Sunday to the delight if the crowd, in formation and in singular passes. Quite unique and awesome to see 3 such significant airplanes from World War II, which played varied roles in the war, flying together. It gave me chills!
From Colorado, the TBM was there to the delight of the crowd. They were able to tour the airplane through a unique and ingenious ladder system up to the leading edge of the wing, a view of the cockpit and then a ladder down the trailing edge. It is always surprising how large this airplane is and a several fortunate attendees got to see that up close, as they purchased flights. Another spectacular sight for the folks on the ground to see this airplanes with the vista of mountains in the background.
The CAF personnel that accompanied all of the airplanes did a great job educating the crowd and in turn, were treated wonderfully by all of the organizers of the LOTC show and Aquarius hotel. Thank you to all!
- Hops and Props was conducted one week later and the local Midland crowd was able to enjoy great music with the magical backdrop of FIFI as her nose poked through the Commemorative Center hangar doors. The 20 different beers and exotic food offerings kept the spirits high, as attendees bid on the unique silent auction offerings. The beer was so good and spirits so high, that CAF Col Bill Coombes was able to sell an entire flight on FIFI, which we flew at 0730 the next morning! See photos here.
- This past week I went to Frederick, Maryland and sat down with Craig Fuller- President of AOPA along with Dan Faoro and Woody Cahall. We discussed the success of FIFI attending AOPA Summit at Long Beach this past year and also discussed other potential collaborations between CAF and AOPA. We had exciting conversations discussing opportunities for us to reach out to their 400,000+ membership. I also met with Editor-in-Chief Tom Haines and gave him a better understanding of the variety and location of our airplanes, in the hopes that there might be some interesting content for their readers; which is also beneficial to us.
On a side note, I found the town of Frederick, Maryland to be a very neat town to visit. Lots of revolutionary era history and first rate restaurants along the quaint Market Street area. Volt, owned by Top Chef Bryan Voltaggio and Todd English’s Olives are both great restaurants that I can personally recommend!
April 25, 2011
I have many things to catch you all up on over the next few days with many entries, but here is one to start you off…If you saw the April issue of FLYING magazine, you may have caught Matha Lunken’s “flying opinion” on warbirds. Below is the Letter to the Editor that I sent off this morning:
Dear Ms Lunken;
(With regards to your column in April’s issue.)
As the largest warbird organization in the world and a 501c3 our 8000 volunteer members care for, fly and yes - raise money to keep 152 of our airplanes flying. Our members, for the most part can't afford to own a warbird, but do everything they can to keep their assigned aircraft beautiful, safe and educational. If we ask for a $5 donation to tour the only B-29 in the world, it’s just so that we can pour the money into FIFI’s care. However, if you don't have the money, we still welcome you through.
We may not look like Tom Cruise in our flight suits anymore, and we are certainly not perfect - BUT we are providing an education not found in today's schools, which our CAF members are extremely proud and committed to provide. So, I hope that the next time you are asked to support a 501c3 warbird organization, you might think a little more graciously and generously.
Stephan C. Brown
April 3, 2011
As we enter the final day at Sun N Fun (SNF), it feels like we have been here a month, instead of a week. It was the tale of two shows, as the first half was overshadowed by downpours and a tornado – followed by the most spectacular air show weather an organizer could hope for. Unfortunately, the weather kept a lot of participants from flying to the show and the resulting economic impact will be felt by all. The upside to the lack of airplanes and people is that the damage and potential for injury would have been far greater, as the tornado’s path went through the General Aviation (GA) camping area; which was more sparsely populated than I have ever seen in my 14 years of SNF attendance.
The weather aside, CAF was not represented by any airplanes at this show, which was a major disappointment to me. We have to be at this show – there are too many aviation enthusiasts and potential members for us to be unrepresented by aircraft at Sun n’ Fun. Please put it into your schedule to come next year. Our mission is to exhibit these airplanes and educate as many people as possible - and there is no place better than at the second largest aviation event in the world.
Where the CAF did make continued inroads was in the area of Aviation Advocacy. Right now there are some challenges facing the warbird industry, outside of fuel pricing and parts - the FAA. Currently the FAA has placed an 18-month moratorium on new exemptions, which is resulting in the inability to add critical new warbirds into the ride program, such as the T-33. Additionally, they have now placed restrictions upon aerobatic flight in our ride aircraft. As you know, many Americans want to experience the thrill of a “victory roll” in a P-51 Mustang - this is now forbidden to our aircraft. Additionally there is no “manipulation of the controls” allowed any longer. Again the dual control Mustangs and others lose an attraction which helps attract an individual to pay $1,500 for a 20-minute flight experience. So, Bob Stenevik and I have traveled to Washington DC once and will be going again to try and get some movement on this issue – but things like this do not happen quickly. Here at SNF I was able to meet with key industry leaders to try to help us with this situation. I also represented the CAF in various media and public events, giving us the visibility and credibility we need to bring our issues to light. Particularly AOPA, EAA and GAMA understand more about what we do and are including us on important coalitions; focused upon the future of GA.
If you want to help us with these efforts, write to your local congressional representative and ask them to join the Congressional General Aviation Caucus. Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Congressman John Barrow (D-GA) are co-chairs of this bi-partisan caucus and their goal is to have 218 members join – as this represents a majority in congress bringing with it the ability to accomplish something! Also, it is expensive and an unplanned budget expense to travel to Washington to fight these limiting initiatives, so if you’d like to help us with this fight, just mark: Warbird Advocacy on the memo line of your check sent to: CAF - PO Box 62000 – Midland, TX 79711
Let’s Keep the CAF Flying!
March 31, 2011
Thanks to all of you who called or wrote to check on us. First we are all fine and Hangar 57 is still standing tall, although it was touch and go. Unfortunately, I was on the far side of the site when it became quickly apparent that bad weather had arrived. It had been dark all morning but the bad stuff stayed just north of us. That changed quickly and fortunately the SNF Air Ops gave the girls in Hangar 57 a warning. But, too late as the wind came up to gale force as they were trying to batten down the tent flaps. Meanwhile, as I raced across the site in my golf cart, I was stopped just short by lightening and a torrential downpour. I was able to take cover in the Media Center, just a quarter mile from the tent, but it was a helpless feeling as I worried about our four girls. Fortunately, they were able to take cover in the car positioned right behind the tent. When I could I raced to the tent, but the damage around the field was incredible, as you can see by the photos. Click Here
We gathered up the wet and dirty merchandise which they couldn't get covered in time and headed off site, after securing the tent. A local laundry is working diligently to help keep us in business over the weekend.
As we left the site, our hearts sank for those whose airplanes were destroyed and whose tents and exhibits were trashed. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be better and the cleanup will be in full force. For now, the threat is not over as more storms are rolling through. We have no power, but the local Starbucks is providing a base for our social media publishing.
Thanks again for your concern.
March 16, 2011
For the latest information on Kyle & Amanda Franklin's progress click here
For all updates on Amanda and myself, please check back to this page. I will only update this page. I will not be posting on my personal page or Amanda's personal page. Amanda and I are both still in the hospital. Amanda will be going into surgery in the morning for her burns and I may go in for surgery on by burn in the next 2-3 days....
Thank you all for your love and support,
Caring Bridge is a wonderful site and gives you the opportunity to post your well wishes to Kyle and Amanda, plus keep up with their progress yourselves. Additionally, Jeff Lee from LiveAirShowTV just finished a short tribute/donation solicitation video. Click here to watch this two-minute video.
For those of you more adept at “Facebooking,” I encourage you to post a link to the video and send it out to anybody who you think might be interested in making a contribution. Or just forward it and encourage air show friends and fans to take a look. There are two funds that we recommend using to make donations to for Kyle and Amanda. The first is one that the family recommended, The Moonlight Fund and the second one is the ICAS Foundation’s fund. If you click here (http://commemorativeairforce.org/?page=cms/announcements&featuresID=346) this will take you to the portion of our CAF website devoted to the Franklin’s where you can get information about donating. We will continue to keep you updated here as well.
Thanks in advance for your help on this effort - it’s working. Although we have a long way to go, the fund has already generated several thousand dollars in contribution. So, please keep up the good work and keep Kyle and Amanda in your prayers.
March 14, 2011
As you my have heard or read, our friends Kyle and Amanda Franklin suffered an engine fire in their Waco while performing at the CAF's Air Fiesta in Brownsville, this past weekend. Kyle and Amanda are two of the most dynamic young performers in the air show industry and have been a huge hit - we featured them on last year's AIRSHO poster and they were the highlight of the weekend performances.
Amanda's brother Matt Younkin descibes the accident and subsequent rescue of Amanda in a detailed letter, which we have posted on the website. (Click Here)
I would ask that you keep Amanda in your prayers, as she undergoes a long and difficult recovery at a San Antonio burn center. Also keep her husband Kyle, who was injured to a lesser degree, in your thoughts - according to Matt his incredible piloting skills and judgement saved Amanda's life. May God bless them both and heal them with His touch.
March 14, 2011
Well, since I am on a roll, I will tell you about the trip to DC back around Valentine’s Day – there wasn’t much romance in the Halls of Congress, as they tried to pass a budget, but we were able to co-host a cocktail party for the members of the Congressional General Aviation Caucus, in the Longworth Building which sits in the shadow of the Capitol Building. This 2 hour soiree was hosted by multiple “Alphabet” organizations, including AOPA, EAA, GAMA, NBAA, RAA, AAA…M.O.U.S.E. (sorry, couldn’t help myself) Cong / CAF Col Sam Graves (R-Missouri) and Cong John Barrow (D-GA) are the co-chairs of this important committee and this is the first time that CAF has been invited to join. The caucus has enlisted 92 Congressmen / women thus far with the stated goal of 218 members. Having this bipartisan participation in keeping the issues of General Aviation in front of our country’s leadership is of the utmost importance for all of the aviation industry and our niche of Warbirds. More and more control is being exercised by our federal agencies in the form of restrictions and attempted fees and I have a growing concern about this. That is why it is so important for us to have a seat at the table and a voice in the discourse!
While I was there, as I like to do on any trip, I visited the National Capitol Squadron, in Warrenton, VA. They have a beautiful facility and a very active membership. I spent 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon, as they graciously came back out for a second weekend day; all to welcome me and gather for fellowship. They were excited to hear, first hand about what was going on around the country and also to update me on the TBM, which is coming along rapidly to a flying disposition. As is always the case, I am buoyed by the enthusiasm and “can-do” attitude in the field – it is the most fun aspect of my job.
Let’s Keep the CAF Flying!