CAF National Airbase
Our leadership team has been in discussions over the last several years with a foundation who is very supportive of aviation education. The Ray Foundation, based in Naples, Florida, was founded by James C. and Joan L. Ray. The Ray Foundation responded favorably to the CAF National Aviation Education Center and the culmination of a recent two-day meeting, they responded with a challenge grant. The Ray Foundation will donate $2 million to the project if the CAF raises $2 million by September 15th (all cash and pledge commitments must be received by this date, and all pledge payments are due by December 31, 2018).
The master plan for the CAF National Airbase campus project includes several separate phases, including an education center with indoor/outdoor event space, a hangar, a museum, and an aviation high school. Dividing up the project into phases allows us to fundraise in smaller increments and build sooner. Keeping in line with our desire to promote education, it was clear to me that our first priority should be to focus on direct educational impact. As a result, I’m happy to introduce you to the first phase of the CAF National Airbase campaign: the CAF National Aviation Education Center. The budget for this first phase is $8.0 million.
(Note- side bar with the elements of an airbase: Aviation Attraction on Airport Grounds, Display and Flying Aircraft, a Touring Program, warbird flight school, Annual Airshow or event, Paid staff, significant volunteer force, Local support, Population base of 1 million)
About the CAF National Aviation Education Center
The best news about this project is that it will further our mission of inspiring the next generation while also providing a solid first step in building a national campus at Dallas Executive Airport that will benefit the entire CAF. Let’s take a moment and walk through the facility, and learn how each element benefits our organization, individual CAF units, and the community. The most imminent and obvious need to address is the CAF’s aircraft (both aircraft that are based locally and those that may be visiting). Operational aircraft, especially our warbirds, require lots of love. This means that we need a hangar to house our aircraft and we need workshops with the proper tools for maintenance and restoration. You’ll notice that the plans include a 30,000 square foot STEM Innovation Hangar. (Note: STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) This hangar is a great way for us to display and maintain our aircraft, while also providing space for conducting educational activities and hosting large events.
Our aircraft are only operational, and programs are only functional, with the help of volunteers. Our volunteers are all the tip of the spear when it comes to deploying the CAF mission. We recognize that providing a place for you, our volunteers, to congregate and socialize is very important. The Arsenal of Democracy Atrium will be 7,000 square feet of space for squadron meetings, social gatherings, and a display space to tell the story of World War II through some of the unique artifacts that are a part of the CAF museum collection. Although we are not trying to make this facility into traditional museum, the inclusion of artifacts is important for the educational mission.
CAF Nose Art
The CAF Nose Art collection is the world’s largest collection of aviation Nose Art, 34 hand painted panels owned by the CAF, is now on temporary exhibit at EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. We would love to have a CAF space to be able to display the renowned collection. Future phases will include more space to display artifacts, but we felt it was important to be able to have a space for the Nose Art collection as early as possible.
Moving over to the east wing of the building, you’ll see more traditional education space. With about 10,000 square feet of workshops and classrooms, the east wing provides a space for students to participate in hands-on learning activities. Of course, these are not conventional “classrooms” with chalkboards and desks; these rooms are more reminiscent of science labs with tables on wheels and slop sinks. The workshops will be stocked with science and mechanical equipment. These spaces will also be outfitted with distance learning capabilities and a flight simulator lab.
The goal of the CAF National Airbase campus is to provide not only a place to operate our CAF aircraft locally, but also a space for the organization to gather, and a flagship space that will showcase who we are as an organization and what all we are able to offer through first-class experiences and events. The CAF National Aviation Education Center will be able to provide practical educational programming and resources for the entire organization. In the coming year, Vice President of Education Bill Shepard, will provide more details about how the CAF unit locations will benefit from the education programs developed and tested at our education center.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and vocational training have been gaining a lot of attention within educational circles, and we have a unique opportunity to highlight World War II history through these subjects. By teaching World War II history through our collection of artifacts, showing students how aircraft fly, and creating STEM guided experiences, we will create an education center that provides a one-of-a-kind experience for all who walk through its doors.
We need your help to meet this challenge. Each dollar you give between now and September 15th is worth twice as much. We hope you will be able to join in our enthusiasm and show your support and contribute too.
You can learn more and make a donation at www.CommemorativeAirForce.org/airbase.
Total Funds Raised to Date:
Donations for the CAF National Aviation Education Center: $2.0 Million Challenge Grant from the Ray Foundation: $2.0 Million City of Dallas – Incentive tied to CAF HQ relocation: $2.0 Million (the National Aviation Education Center satisfies the requirements tied to this money)