FROM THE CAF PRESIDENT
Dear CAF Members and Supporters;
I ask you to contact your elected representative in the House to voice your opposition to “H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act.”
This legislation would privatize the U.S. air traffic control system (ATC) which would be governed by a board of appointees, not the FAA. Unfortunately, the balance of this board weighs heavily in favor of the airlines, who strongly support this bill.
As you may have read earlier this month, we joined our colleagues in the business and sport aviation community to vigorously oppose this bill. Click here to read more. We urge you to contact your representative today and let them know that you oppose this bill. Below are some talking points we urge you to use when communicating with your representative.
To find your local representative visit: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ There is a link to directly email your representative.
- It is best to address your representative as “The Honorable” or “Representative”
- The United States National Airspace system is the world’s best, safest system. This system has evolved over years of balancing the needs of all the users of the airspace system, including airlines, business aviation and General Aviation.
- “H.R. 2997, the 21st Century AIRR Act” would privatize the airspace system and put control in a board of appointees, heavily weighted toward the airlines.
- While many countries have private air traffic control systems, none are as efficient at handling air traffic as the current system. These private systems also favor airlines over the other users of the system and make it difficult or nearly impossible for non-airline aviation to exist.
- We do not feel this system would do anything to enhance safety or efficiency and would lead to a reduction in services and support for non-airline aviation.
- The National Airspace belongs to all citizens and the rights of special interests should not outweigh the public good.
- We urge you and your colleagues to seek a reasoned, equitable answer to supporting and enhancing the world’s best and safest air traffic control system in the world.
Stephan C. Brown
photo: Shutterstock 456200890/servickuz
June 13, 2017 - (San Marcos, Texas) The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) announces the addition of a Bell 47 to their fleet of warbirds. The CAF has the world’s largest collection of flying vintage military aircraft, but this helicopter, is the only flying helicopter in the fleet.
The Bell 47 is a two-bladed, single-engine, light aircraft manufactured by Bell Helicopter. The Bell 47 entered U.S. military service in 1946, as the H-13 Sioux. Its versatility made it an excellent candidate for scouting, search and rescue and medevac duties. During the Korean War, it was known as the “Angel of Mercy” for evacuating wounded soldiers from difficult-to-reach positions on the front lines. Its iconic shape, and simple construction made the Bell easy to recognize when it reprised its Korean War role for audiences in the TV show "M*A*S*H".
Including the Bell 47 in the fleet gives the CAF an opportunity to broaden the story of American military aviation, even extend into the Vietnam War era, because many of that generation’s helicopter pilots were trained in the type.
The CAF’s example is a Bell 47G-4A featuring a 310 horsepower Lycoming VO-540 was constructed in 1969 for the civilian market. It was operated extensively by a flight school until it was generously donated by a CAF Colonel. Due to its bubble canopy, the Bell 47 offers great all around visibility, making it an ideal aircraft for sightseeing and living history flights.
The aircraft has been assigned to a new sponsor group called The Tail Rotor Group led by CAF Col Roger Sharp. The helicopter will be hangered in the Central Texas Wing’s stunning World War II hangar at the San Marcos Regional Airport. The Sponsor Group’s first order of business will be to return the helicopter to authentic U.S. Army colors.
Those interested in supporting this aircraft or joining the CAF’s first helicopter specific unit are encouraged to contact CAF Col Roger Sharp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Commemorative Air Force:
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. For 60 years the CAF has acquired, restored and flown these aircraft as a tribute to the greatest generation and to educate the public. The organization has more than 60 locations, across the world and is headquartered in Dallas. A committed group of over 11,000 members who volunteer their time and talents to maintain and operate the CAF's fleet of more than 165 World War II aircraft. This is the largest flying museum in the world. Learn more and see how you can participate at www.CommemorativeAirForce.org.
P-63 Kingcobra to Join “Warbirds in Review” at AirVenture 2017
Former Astronaut Joe Engle and T-38 Talon Will Share the Program to Highlight Link with NASA
PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. (June 7, 2017) – A newly restored Bell P-63 Kingcobra will join “Warbirds in Review” at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture 2017 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 24-30, 2017. The aircraft spent 16 years in restoration before flying again this spring at Atlanta Regional Airport – Falcon Field in Peachtree City, Georgia. The P-63, restored and operated by the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), served many roles, from test aircraft to airshow performer.
Former astronaut and retired Gen. Joe Engle, who was associated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from the X-15 to Apollo through the shuttle, will be a guest speaker to share the history of the P-63 and NASA on Saturday, July 29 at 1 p.m. He is the only person to have flown two different types of winged vehicles in space: the X-15 and the Space Shuttle. He also is the only astronaut to manually fly the shuttle through reentry and landing.
This P-63 served as a Bell test aircraft until January 1945, when it was transferred to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the forerunner of today’s NASA. The aircraft operated at Moffett Field on the grounds of the NACA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. It was built in the winter of 1944, bearing the Bell construction number 33-11(model 33, aircraft 11). It rolled out of the Bell plant in Niagara Falls, on Feb. 24, 1944, where it was formally accepted by the United States Army Air Force as a P-63A-6 and given serial number 42-68941.
“This P-63 was used by NACA for early flight testing, and we plan to unveil in Oshkosh the special markings the airplane carried in 1945 when based at Moffett Field,” said Mo Aguiari, Marketing Director for the Dixie Wing. “For this year’s Warbirds in Review, we have asked NASA to send a T-38 Talon as part of the program. The T-38 is used by NASA to train astronauts, which symbolizes the historic link between NACA and NASA.”
“Having the T-38 as part of this program completes the circle to tell the history of NASA," said Connie Bowlin, President of EAA Warbirds of America, "because this Bell P-63, restored by the Dixie Wing of the CAF, was actually operated by NACA.”
About the CAF Dixie Wing Warbird Museum
The CAF Dixie Wing, based in Peachtree City, Georgia, was founded in 1987. The Wing is one of the largest units of the Commemorative Air Force, maintains and flies seven WWII aircraft including a P-51 Mustang, an FG-1D Corsair and rare types such as the SBD Dauntless dive bomber and P-63A Kingcobra. The Dixie Wing organizes two large events a year – WWII Heritage Days and the CAF Atlanta Warbird Weekend. The unit, composed of 300 volunteers, is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that relies on contributions of time and funds to carry out the mission of the CAF. For more information, go to www.dixiewing.org.
About the Commemorative Air Force
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. For more than 60 years the CAF has aquired, restored and flown these aircraft as a tribute to the greatest generation and to educate the public. The organization has more than 60 locations, across the world and is headquartered in Dallas. A committed group of 11,000 members volunteer their time and talents to maintain and operate the CAF's fleet of more than 165 World War II aircraft. This is the largest flying museum in the world. Learn more and see how you can participate at www.commemorativeairforce.org.
Do you have Tuskegee Airmen artifacts? The CAF Red Tail Squadron wants to talk to you!
The CAF Red Tail Squadron needs the help of our fellow CAF units. We are looking for artifacts, mementos and memorials of the Tuskegee Airmen!
We hope to create a virtual showcase of these personal items to further humanize the experiences of the Tuskegee Airmen which will help people better relate to them and learn more about these important Americans. World War II may be slipping farther into the past, but, as we all know, the lessons to be learned from the Tuskegee Airmen are TIMELESS!
Here's what we need from you. If you have any artifacts (items from a uniform, log books, notes, medals, anything physical that belonged to an original Tuskegee Airmen) or know of any memorials, please get in touch with us. We will collect a photo and information from you that will be used to launch this new project and help make it a success.
Do you have any artifacts or know someone who does? Or are there any at your local air museum? Give us a call or email!
Reach out to email@example.com or (203) 297-4994. Don't wait! We need your help now!
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven organization dedicated to educating audiences across the country about the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel. Learn more at www.redtail.org.
Memorial bench in honor of Tuskegee Airman John Leahr and B-17 pilot Herbert Heilbrun
Jacqueline Covington, CAF Red Tail Squadron Ambassador
North Avondale Montessori School
In May 2017, a memorial bench was dedicated in honor of the courage of two World War II combat veterans, and their very special connection. 1st Lt John H. Leahr, a Tuskegee Airman who flew the iconic P-51C Mustang, and 1st Lt Herbert M. Heilbrun, B-17 bomber pilot, were students at North Avondale Elementary School in 1928. However, because of racial issues and divisions in America, they never got to be friends.
When they met again later in life and compared their logbooks, they discovered that Leahr had escorted Heilbrun on two separate occasions, most notable on the occasion when Heilbrun’s B-17 had been hit and Leahr escorted him safely back to his base.
They became close friends and enjoyed telling stories of their military experiences. For years they spoke to many audiences, sharing their unique friendship with people of all ages. They were even the subject of a book Black and White Airmen: Their True History.
Artifact: Pages from POW journal
Submitted by: Dr. Harold Brown, Tuskegee Airman, Lt Col, USAF, Ret.
Location: Port Clinton, OH
About: During the time that Col. Harold Brown was a POW, he kept a journal of his experiences. The first page indicates that he bailed out of his airplane, a P-51C, over the Alps on March 14, 1945. He was interned for a short time at a camp near Nuremberg. He and literally thousands of other POWs then began a forced march to Moosburg, as the Allied Forces drew ever closer. They arrived at Moosburg around April 18. The journal indicates cities they walked through and when they received Red Cross packages. The other three pages indicate the foods that Brown dreamt of eating when he got home. Hunger was the one constant in the minds of the men as they made the nearly two-week trek to Moosburg.
Update from the CAF President - June 9, 2017
Today I received this letter from U.S. Congressman and CAF Colonel Sam Graves. Congressman Graves has always led the charge for General Aviation and Warbirds in Congress and again he is working hard to protect the freedom to fly, that we enjoy. Here at Commemorative Air Force Headquarters, we are monitoring the situation and weighing in where necessary on this important issue and we will let you know if and when is the best time to let your voice be heard. Right now, I encourage you to stay tuned and educated on the situation - and the letter below is the latest update.
As you may have seen this week, the President and his Administration weighed in directly on the ongoing effort to remove Air Traffic Control operations from the FAA as part of a week long roll-out of various infrastructure proposals. This proposal lacked support in Congress last year but now has renewed energy given President Trump’s endorsement of the concept.
Specifically, on Monday the President released ‘principles’ that reflect his Administration’s priorities for removing air traffic control from government. As a follow up, the DOT Secretary also testified this week in the House and Senate and tried to answer questions about the Administration’s proposal. The most concerning part was the call for user fees on all segments of the aviation community including GA. As we have shown in the past, user fees on GA won’t fly in Congress.
Further, the President proposed a board that gave airlines 2 seats, controllers 2 seats, GA 1 seat, Airports 1 seat, government 2 seats, and then four non-industry seats that will be picked by the initial 8 board members. A key difference is these groups of industry stakeholders would not be directly appointing the board members but rather would submit a list of 6-10 candidates to the DOT Secretary who would then choose the most qualified candidates. So, for example, the airlines would submit 10 names and the Secretary would choose 2 from their list. GA would do the same except the Secretary would only choose 1 from their list of 10.
While those recommendations are very concerning, I will say the Administration did address some concerns that I’ve raised about last year’s House bill. Specifically, it went into detail on how access, both to rural areas as well as ATC services for all users, needed to be protected. Additionally, the proposal recommended the AIP program be fully supported by the trust fund by aviation taxes while all other programs remaining with FAA would be funded separately by Congress. These two areas are key concerns that I have raised since the beginning of this debate over whether to remove air traffic control from government and I hope to see that translate into actual policy in the House bill. However, the two most important issues still remain the board and the fees the board can levy on GA.
I have been hearing from many in the GA community asking what this proposal means in terms of the likelihood of removing ATC from government this year. Whether its infrastructure, tax reform, or the budget, the Administration will always put forward a vision for what they want to see. But in Congress the real decisions are made as to whether those ideas have merit or more importantly broad support.
In this case, many of the same dynamics still remain. While GA has great concern and has voiced that publicly, two key constituencies in Congress have made clear they have their own concerns that will prevent the proposal from moving forward without dramatic changes. Those groups are the Appropriators and the Ways and Means (tax committee) members who have strong concerns about the loss of Congressional oversight. They make up 54 members of the 237 Republican members in the House which is more than enough to prevent the bill moving forward.
So, again the President’s proposal likely won’t have legs in Congress and this is step 1 of a 10 step process. We’ve got a deadline of September 30th and with the crowded agenda in Congress it will be very difficult to move something that doesn’t have broad support before then. As always, you can count on me to work hard on behalf of GA and all of aviation by engaging in the debate to ensure that any proposal that moves forward takes our concerns and priorities into account.
Hope to see you all in Tarkio very soon!
Letter from the CAF President - June 5, 2017
The White House announced this afternoon a plan calling to transfer managing the United States air traffic control (ATC) system to a non-profit corporation. President Trump made the announcement as part of a week-long effort to showcase and promote a larger infrastructure initiative.
The General Aviation community has serious concerns that this new governance would likely involve increasing user fees for all aircraft operators. An increase in user fees will negatively impact all of GA, especially organization like us. This afternoon, a letter voicing concerns about this plan was sent to the White House. This letter (click here to download) was signed by the Commemorative Air Force, AOPA, GAMA, ICAS, EAA, NBAA and many other organizations. We are united in agreement that this proposal is a serious and immediate threat to general aviation in this country.
I encourage each of you to learn more about this issue and make your position clear to your elected officials in the House and Senate. The CAF will continue to follow and stay actively involved in what is best for our organization and our members.
We will continue to keep you informed of the issue and will follow up with any additional information or actions you can take to help.