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April 2, 2014

02 April 2014

Spring flying season has arrived and the event that kicks things off is Sun 'n Fun down in Lakeland,Fla. I arrived here yesterday and for the first time in 7 years, we didn't bring Hangar 57 to put on display. We have too many things going on this Spring and too few people going too many we decided to focus elsewhere this year.

The good news is that we have at least two significant aircraft here (so far) and I stopped by to talk to their crews. The Texas Raiders team is out on tour for the first time in a long time and they have met with strong success. It is fun to see their excitement.

The SB2C is also here and Ed Vesley was busy making things happen when I went by- so I will check in with him today. The airplane looked good, although a little bit lonely on the Warbird ramp. Hopefully more aircraft will arrive today. I ran into Jim Cavanaugh and Doug Jeanes on the as well and they were happily enjoying the sunny weather, displaying their Sky Raider and two T-28s.


In the "who's who" walking around was Aaron and Thea Tippin who are camping out on site with their two boys. Aaron became a CFI this past year and solo'd his oldest son  Ted- so the Tippin's continue to be "airplane crazy!"

I didn't get too far on without running into old aviation friends and the topic people were interested in was the search for our National Airbase. I will tell all of you that we are getting closer to a decision. The CAF General Staff is meeting this weekend in Dallas for final discussions and probably make a decision as to which location we will enter into the final negotiations. However, due to the fact that wherever they pick will need to get final approval from their local governmental authorities, we won't be able to publicly reveal anything for as much as 8 weeks. Sorry about that, but there is no way around it. I can tell you that the offers have been very exciting and the future for the CAF continues to look brighter every day.

Last night I went to listen to the leaders of AOPA, EAA, NBAA and HAI discuss the challenges ahead. You can all read their thoughts in their respective publications, but it is good to see their collaboration. To digress a little on this topic- Bob Stenevik and I went to Washington D.C. two weeks ago and met with the FAA. Although we had and have concerns, we had a positive meeting with the leadership that oversees the regulations that deal with warbirds. I am hopeful we will see some positive movement or a status quo at the least; for the immediate future.

Finally last night I met up with John and Martha King of King Schools fame for dinner. They have instructed at least 50% of the active pilots today though one or more of their courses- wow! They are always entertaining as well as educational to talk with and I enjoyed hearing about the state of GA in China, of all places. They said that only a tiny percentage of the 1.3 billion people can afford to fly- by that the is still a lot of people! They are on their way over and it is fascinating to think about flying in Chinese airspace- if not a little scary....

So, that was the happenings yesterday and I will let you know if I see anything else of interest today!




March 10, 2014

It’s been a week now since Wing Staff Conference ended, so I am late on the Blog; but I left town last Monday and spent the last week playing with cows (see photo – that was my view.)


But I had time to reflect last week and I must say that this was the best WSC in the seven years that I have been involved. Besides the fun of our annual Staff Skit (Although I don’t have Facebook, I am sure there are plenty of photos around of that!) where I get to make a fool of myself; and the CAF’s Got Talent (where others join me in foolishness) – there was a ton of good information exchanged. Beside the new Headquarters Staff members that have added a new dimension to the classes, there are many new leaders showing up and learning from the more seasoned leadership. However, this new blood is also bringing fresh ideas to the table!

Of course, don’t just take it from me – here is an email that I received from Stan Turner, the Houston Wing Leader regarding WSC:


I would like to thank you and your staff for putting on a solid program this weekend for WSC. The reminder of "Why We Are Here" was very motivational. Many unit leaders like me get bogged down in the grind of trying to move our groups forward while being constrained by things like day jobs, time and energy. Attending an event where practical knowledge is shared as well as genuine honesty is very appreciated…”

Stan Turner

Although not everyone got the word, last year I made it mandatory for each unit’s Leader to attend WSC. Why did I make it a requirement? Because we operate aircraft and our member’s lives are in our hands. Additionally, large amounts of the CAF’s revenue are in the field and in the hands of Unit Staff Officers. Therefore, if you are signing up to lead these units and their members, then you need to attend the annual conference where important issues, including Membership, Safety, Ops and Finances are discussed. So, if not for the fun and camaraderie, come because you owe that responsibility to your unit’s members. That is why every unit leader is required to agree to attend WSC, prior to running for election. That may sound heavy handed, but in reality, these are just the High Standards that the CAF is steadily establishing for ourselves. World Class organizations have very high standards. But beyond the Unit Leader, others on the Unit Staff, or just members at large should attend. There is too much info being disseminated for one person to get it all.

 Something new that came out of WSC was the issuance of one (1) FREE Nomex flight suit to each qualified aircraft crew member. The purpose for this is Safety and to help with the newly created CAF regulation requiring all crew members to wear a Nomex flight suit. This fire retardant suit saves lives, as evidenced in the presentation given by CAF Col Doug Jeanes, who told the story of the CAF’s P-47 which caught on fire. He managed to land it quickly and he walked away….barely! But his helmet and scorched Nomex flight suit told another story….of what could have happened had he not been wearing same. By giving every flight crew member one suit for free, we are stressing the importance of safety and our commitment to our most highly exposed members. This program will cost $100,000 this year and was paid for from last year’s (2013) Operating Surplus. It will continue on beyond 2014 to include all future flight crew members receiving this free Nomex flight suit.

While making this commitment, we also selected a Look of Uniformity for the flight suits. There is a standardized and an individualistic component to the patches and desert tan flight suit. But make sure you know what they are, because everyone will need to comply. (Again, Standards!) Please contact Bob Stenevik or Buddy Cooksey for details.

 So, please make your plans to come and enjoy the fun, information and history (we induct our CAF Hall of Fame members each year) of Wing Staff Conference. The dates for next year are: Feb 19-22, 2015.




February 19, 2014

In Tribute


Last night I received the terrible news concerning CAF Col Ray Hofman. As I understand it, yesterday (Feb. 18) Ray was at Breckenridge,Texas test flying his Sea Fury after it came out of restoration. Soon after taking off on one of the flights, the Sea Fury crashed with the resulting fatality of pilot Ray Hofman.

All of us who have been in this business for very long have been impacted by tragedies such as this…which makes it no easier to handle; perhaps it makes it even harder… I first experienced it as a young lieutenant in Army Flight School when a member of my flight class and his crew were killed during instruction. It shook me up that a guy I had just been talking to at a party, only two days previous, had now simply vanished. I remember the feeling of 30 years ago…and it feels exactly the same today.

I have only known Ray for two years, but as I am sure with many, he made a deep impact. At first, he seemed almost too good to be true – a tall, handsome young guy who had been very successful, all on his own talents and hard work….and he was a nice guy; a VERY nice guy. But, Ray was the Real Deal. He was just that successful and just that nice – and generous.

 A race car lover, who had decided to extend his passion to warbirds; when we first met, I was inquisitive as to why the new focus on warbirds? Ray told me his story about growing up in Canada and his childhood room covered with pictures of the CAF’s airplanes on the walls. And that when he had decided to move to Midland for the oil business, he arrived late in the night, only to wake up and see the CAF letters on the water tower. He told me he was so excited because he never realized that the CAF was located in the town he was relocating too! So now, more than 10 years later, he had the time and resources to pursue this passion.

And Ray pursued this passion with enthusiasm! He got the best instructors, bought the best aircraft and had them maintained by the best mechanics. And from all accounts he was a helluva pilot.

But, beyond his passion and success, Ray was a good family man and a good friend. I had the pleasure of seeing him with Janna and their four boys (Dylan, Justin, Byron and Jayden) several times and it always brought a smile to my face. Their home is a young boy’s dream and he got to be the fifth little-boy in their backyard Disneyland…

Ray was very generous – sometimes men of means will get involved in warbirds but not get involved with us blue-collar CAF types. This was the opposite with Ray. He and Janna became active members of the High Sky Wing and were exceedingly generous with their time, resources and airplanes. He loved hanging out with any of the membership to talk airplanes and history.

On a personal note, Ray was a great friend to me in my role here at the CAF. He and I collaborated on the long-term plans for the CAF and he quickly became a member of my “kitchen cabinet”. He was very helpful and supportive to me during the turmoil created around the move of CAF Headquarters. He felt it was the right thing for the organization and worked behind the scenes to bring differing views together and he would often call or text me encouragement. Ray had great dreams about building a hangar across from the Commemorative Center and Janna and I had just met with the Airport to get things rolling. He wanted to be close to the CAF so that he could help improve our Museum with his collection of airplanes on display in OUR hangar – such generosity!

As I look back in my phone, his last text to me was a request to help him source WWII flags for his “hangar/museum”. That makes me smile – Ray planned on his new hangar being as much a museum for others to enjoy- as a repository for his fun.

I will miss you Ray.


Top Photo by Frank Mormillo (2012 AIRSHO) other photos from FaceBook


February 5, 2014

Wing Staff Conference (WSC) is just around the corner and along with the fun and great information that gets passed along, the CAF Hall of Fame is an event worth attending by every member. If you attend WSC, your ticket is free for this black tie optional dinner, but even if you don’t attend WSC, a ticket for a fabulous evening and diner is only $60. What’s great about this Hall of Fame is that we “honor our own”. If you think about a Hall of Fame in the abstract, who among us would ever end up in such a place? I know that the answer is probably no one….I know that I would never end up in the Academic Hall of Fame at my school. I’m not the world’s greatest pilot, or world’s fastest (insert sport here). And most of us are in the same boat. 

But in the CAF Hall of Fame, regular Joe’s (and Josephine’s) like us can end up in the CAF Hall of Fame; just through dedication and commitment. Don’t get me wrong, very few members end up there and all have dedicated much of their life….but it was not through some extraordinary fete or donation, or heroism. It was from doing a great job, for twenty or more years; with selfless dedication. The qualification in the CAF Hall of Fame Guide reads, “Must have dedicated themselves selflessly, resulting in significant contributions to the CAF's mission, growth and strength”.

This year’s inductees, like those who came before them, certainly qualify. Both George W. Lodge and Ted Short are members who I know quite well and had the honor of working for, as both were on the General Staff when I arrived. Those two men would not consider themselves exceptional, but fact is that they put exceptional love and dedication into the CAF and we are a better organization because of them.

Please come honor them and celebrate a wonderful evening together. Saturday March 1st. Call 432-563-1000 ext. 2221 for information or tickets.



January 17, 2014

My New Year’s resolution is to do better with my Blog and I hope to do so by just using short blips of info:

·         In late December we received a donation of 3 (yes, three!) T-34’s – that made for 5 total airplanes donated to the CAF in 2013! And a grand total of 165 airplanes in the fleet…

·         If you belong to AOPA, you might have read their President’s Position Report at the front of the mag. He / Mark Baker talked about the cooperation of all of the GA Associations – I totally agree! He listed a bunch of GA Alphabets, but the one that slipped his mind was the CAF. So, I wrote Mark an upbeat note reminding him about us and all of the wonderful work we do in air shows and educating Americans across the country!

·         We are meeting with the finalist airports for National Airbase in the next 30 days and it is getting exciting – especially since we have been doing some conceptualizing with an architect.

·         We also have a unique and talented “consultant” on our team who is helping our design and ideation team to think out of the traditional paradigm of Museums.


·         Wing Staff Conference will be fun, educational and exciting this year – DON’T MISS IT. Feb 28-Mar21


·         How about our two CAF Hall of Fame inductees - Ted Short and George Lodge. Two devoted CAF members embody the CAF spirit! ( I often introduce Ted as my Grandfather – he loves that!)

More news later!



December 27, 2013

Happy Holidays to All!

As we end the year, I know that I am thankful for another safe year
for the pilots, members and aircraft of the CAF. Plus we ended our the
is straight year financially strong and well in the black for 2013.

And I couldn't be more excited for 2014 as the General Staff will
settle on our future location for the National
CAF Airbase. The
finalists all have their pluses and minuses with no one site being
"perfect". But any of them will help to progress the CAF into the
future. Each requires a different business plan, so it will be up to
the General Staff to select the best path.

  Some people have asked me why one of the three other semi-finalists did
not make the final list. Well the plain spoken answer is that those
not selected did not make either a serious attempt or a competitive
offer compared to the three remaining locations.

I am looking forward to getting out to visit many units this year to
see the progress you are all making. And there are good things
happening. There are many units that are making hay with ride programs
and fund raising.

The place to learn what is working is at the upcoming Wing Staff
Conference. All unit leaders must attend but it is such a valuable and
fun experience for all members and I highly encourage any member to
attend. Plus it is known for hijinks from the Staff at CAF's Got

If you have an event this year that you would like me to attend please
shoot me an invite and if I can make it- I will.

Happy New Year everyone!


Nov. 30, 2013

Here is the latest fund raiser from the B-29 Squadron. This is what it looks like- as you can see, an impressive supersize calendar with photos from the past, stories and history along with fabulous recent photos from Scott Slocum. The base calendar is $50 and is signed by key members of the Squadron, but there are higher levels with other Recognition rewards. Go to their website to learn more. I liked them
so much, I bought two! To get your own visit and all proceeds go to purchase a new exhaust system for the plane.





Nov. 20, 2013

For the second straight day, the auditor has reported that we have received zero valid votes. I expect that he will recommend closing the vote and declaring the final outcome by the end of the week. Currently the vote still stands at 75.11% "For" the amendment to the Bylaws.



Nov. 18, 2013

I have gotten several calls asking about the status of the vote. Right now, the vote is very tight, with a 75.11% FOR the Amendment. However, a couple of legal votes did arrive today, postmarked by the Nov. 12  deadline. In holding with previous year’s elections, we will wait for two days of zero legal votes and then close the election.




November 4, 2013

I visited the Air Force Academy this past weekend for the Air Force v.
Army football game. My son Austin is an exchange student from West
Point for the Fall semester.

As you can see close by the Chapel is a bronze model of a B-29.
Additionally a B-24, Mustang, Corsair and other World War II era aircraft are
in bronze similarly displayed. And of course the CAF is flying one of
everything that they had displayed. It made me feel proud of what we
have done to preserve these. Before the game a T-33 did the fly by and I
thought, "we could have done that for you..."

The game was great and I feel good for our military and our country
when I meet the young friends of Austin from both Academies he has
been fortunate enough to attend.


Questions, Comments, Concerns? Email Steve Brown at

August 14, 2013

Recently I received some additional question regarding the move. I will publish these in next weeks On The Fly, but wanted to put them out here right away.  Steve

New Q&A’s

Q: Will there be a member dues or ANUAC increase to fund this move?

A: NO. There is no need to do so. In the past six years we have increased our fundraising and revenue generating activities, which will allow these two things to remain unchanged. Also, it is expected that the increase in business operations at the new locations will actually increase the bottom line for the CAF. (New and larger airshow, greater year round attendance and revenue generating activities)

Q: How much will this cost?

A: We are negotiating with the cities for economic incentives for us to move. These could include cash, facilities and other economic incentives. Since we don’t know what the final tally will be, it is hard to give you a figure. Also, depending upon what we receive from the final location – we will scale and phase the facilities accordingly. But, we have internal financial strength in the CAF Foundation and we will pursue fundraising aggressively with the local constituents and foundations in the new location. Having a large population to draw from in a city that wants us will aid our fundraising tremendously.

Q: Will there be debt that the membership will have to pay?

A: There may be some debt, but the membership will not be saddled with paying it. This is and has always been our challenge as a Management Team. We are committing, (as CAF members and groups of members have been doing for over 50 years!) to take down any debt required through fundraising and Headquarters business operations. Moreover, we will take on any construction (if needed) in a phased manner and raise the funds for each new phase; in order to keep any debt needed at a low level. This is NOT a new philosophy. Most every unit has taken on some debt when building a new hangar – and with a solid business plan we have seen these units successfully carry and pay off that debt. But to restate, no debt will funneled down or assessed to the membership to pay.

Q: Will there still be eight locations in the running by election time?

A: The General Staff are working diligently and believe they will reduce the Finalist Locations down at least once and possibly twice between now and the election. So, you will know even more information in the coming weeks. It is our plan that the envelope containing the ballot will also contain a booklet with all of the information that we have published, along with demographic and airport information on the finalist locations.

Q: What will happen to CAF units that are not Air Bases?

A: Units that are not designated Air Bases, continue to do what they have always done. We do not want everyone to be an Air Base, or even part of an Air Base. This is just another type of CAF unit: Detachments, Sponsor Groups, Squadrons, Wings…and now Air Bases.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Contact Steve directly at


July 9, 2013


Ok I have finally done it- I am a REAL pilot now. I know you Warbird Divas don't consider tricycle gear airplanes to be the real deal  and god forbid you even glance at a helicopter! So none of my experience counts, until now. As you can see from the photo, I am in a J-3 cub- Aaron Tippin's to be exact. Aaron flew me and now has proclaimed me ready for the check ride for my tail wheel endorsement; to occur shortly. So, I am on my way....




July 1, 2013


We have added another airplane to the CAF fleet and this one should really help out the Alaska Wing a lot, as they will be able to sell rides in it. This is reportedly one of the nicest BT 13’s in the country.(see story and photos below)

Congratulations to the Alaska Wing and to all of the CAF. I think that the continual improvement of our National image is leading to a changing perception about the CAF’s airplanes and how we care for and operate them. We should all keep in mind to point out to Warbird owners that we know, to consider donating or remembering the CAF in their estate planning, with regards to their airplane.


Good Morning Steve

I went to the Alaska Wing this weekend to receive the restored BT-13B donated by Howard “Mike” Hunt. Mike is the same man who donated the Alaska’s Wing Harvard in 2007 to start the unit.


They have been doing well with the Harvard, although it has been an issue not being able to get the airplane added to the exemption, so they could sell rides. The BT is standard category, so getting it added to the LOA for rides will be easy and was a factor in Mike’s decision to donate the airplane now.


One of the agreements we made with Mike was the “current” Harvard pilots could fly the BT without having to pay a sponsorship. To make this happen Mike donated about $13,000 to the aircraft account.


The “Donation Party” was the best we’ve ever had. The local NBC station was on hand to interview Mike and me during the signing of the paperwork for the transfer of registration. There was a big feast and all of the family and Wing pilots were there for the celebration. They had everyone sign a large picture of the airplane and will have it framed, before sending it to us for posterity.


Another neat thing was they had a large “Key to the BT-13” made and presented it with much ceremony.


It is a very nice airplane and the Wing is in great spirits!



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