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Unit Manual Section 1 - Admin Structure and the Unit

Category: Unit Manuals

Published date: Apr 12, 2024


A. Introduction

There are four main corporations that comprise the American Airpower Heritage Group. The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is governed by a board of directors known as the "General Staff." This eleven (11) member board is representative of the national membership. Additionally there are three others: the American Airpower Heritage Museum, Inc. (AAHM), the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum, Inc (AAHFM)., and The American Airpower Heritage Foundation, Inc. (AAHF). Each of these have their own board of directors. All policies for the four corporations are approved by the President/CEO. The following describes the four separate corporations and their related missions.

    Commemorative Air Force         American Airpower Heritage
    (The Organization)              Museum, Inc.,   including the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center (NAEC)
                        (Specific focus: static museum and educational programming)

    American Airpower Heritage      American Airpower Heritage
    Flying Museum, Inc.             Foundation, Inc.
    (Specific focus: The Fleet)         (Specific focus: The Endowment)

1.  Commemorative Air Force (CAF) (The Organization)

      The purposes of the CAF are educational, patriotic and civic. The mission of the CAF is to Educate, Inspire and Honor. This is done through flight and living history experiences.  The CAF is the operating agency. The CAF conducts all membership and Unit services, manages and produces the CAF’s publication (Dispatch), provides public relations coordination (national and international), operates aircraft through a written agreement with the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (AAHFM), maintains a liaison with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and other Warbird groups, performs/monitors all CAF flying events and static displays and manages operating funds and the day-to-day business of the CAF.

2.  American Airpower Heritage Museum, Inc.  (AAHM), 
     including the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center (NAEC)

The NAEC is the flagship of the AAHM. Its mission is to Honor the Past, Empower the Future. The NAEC opened in the fall of 2021.  A selection of the Museum’s artifacts are on display. Other artifacts and oral histories are currently in storage, awaiting future use. The AAHM is governed by its Board of Directors. The CEO of the CAF is also the CEO of the AAHM.

3.  American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum, Inc. (AAHFM)
      (The Fleet)

      The AAHFM holds the title to all CAF aircraft, acquires aircraft and entrusts aircraft to the CAF through written agreements. Although the airplanes are located throughout the United States, they are flown to Headquarters periodically to ensure proper maintenance and to offer the viewing public an ever-changing exhibit.  The AAHFM is governed by its Board of Directors.  The CEO of the CAF is also the CEO of the AAHFM.

4.  American Airpower Heritage Foundation, Inc. (AAHF)
      (The Endowment)

      The AAHF administers the endowment funds of all four corporations from which earnings are distributed in keeping with the organizational objectives. The AAHF is governed by its Board of Directors. The AAHF may receive advice from a Board of Trustees. The CEO of the CAF is also the CEO of the AAHF. 

B. Policy Governance In The Commemorative Air Force

  1. Within the CAF’s Organizational Boards the CAF General Staff (the 11 member board), which is elected in accordance with the CAF Bylaws by the CAF’s membership operates under the Policy Governance management model for their Boards.

  2. Policy Governance is a trademarked governance model designed for Boards of Directors that provides a clear differentiation between governance and management responsibilities in organizations. The model was developed by John Carver. Authors of the Policy Governance model say it is a paradigm shift from the traditional practice of governance. The model uses 10 principles to define appropriate relationships between the Board and owners, CEO, staff, and consumers. Policy Governance begins with a definition of governance as "Seeing to it that the organization achieves what it should and avoids unacceptable situations." From this definition, board governance is at an arm's length from operations. The Board's primary relationship is with the organization's 'ownership'. The ownership of the CAF is the CAF’s members. As a result, governance is a downward extension of ownership rather than an upward extension of management. In this space, the board, as a single entity, assumes a governance position that is the link between ownership and the operational organization. That governance position is a commanding authority. The board exists to exercise that commanding authority and to properly empower others. "Proper empowerment" means to define the results to be achieved by the organization (Ends) and define what would be considered unacceptable in terms of ethics and prudence (Executive Limitations). The Board delegates the job of achieving its Ends within the parameters defined in policy to the CEO. To complete the delegation, the Board rigorously monitors performance to policy to uphold accountability of the CEO. In Policy Governance, the Board has three primary jobs: Ownership Linkage, Policy Development and Assurance of Effective Operational Performance. The board's focus is at the broadest level of policy that is informed by the ownership's values. The board stops making policy when it can accept any reasonable interpretation. Authors of the model argue Boards should govern with an emphasis on (a) outward vision rather than an internal preoccupation, (b) encouragement of diversity in viewpoints, (c) strategic leadership more than administrative detail, (d) clear distinction of board and chief executive roles, (e) collective rather than individual decisions, (f) future rather than past or present, and (g) proactively rather than reactivity. In general, if a Board applies ALL of the principles of Policy Governance in its process and decision-making, then the Board is likely practicing the model.

  3. The AAHM, AAHFM and the AAHF do not operate under the Policy Governance model.
    The AAHM board members are selected for their knowledge and passion for preserving and sharing history through the Museum’s collection and support of the educational emphasis of this entity. The AAHF board members are selected for their knowledge of fund raising and investments counseling to ensure the organization’s endowment funds are managed in a manner that provides the best return on the organization’s investment while limiting the risks. The AAHFM board is focused on the CAF’s fleet of aircraft. This Board is made up of directors who are knowledgeable of the organizational goals for the preservation and operation of our fleet and their experience with operating Warbirds. This Board makes recommendations regarding the Fleet’s management which are ultimately approved by the CAF’s General Staff.

C. CAF Administrative Structure

Three groups participate in administration and management of the CAF, each with separate duties and responsibilities:

The General Staff operates as a Board of Directors and establishes Executive Limitations for the President/CEO.         

The Advisory Board serves as advisor to the President on all matters of CAF business and policy submitted to it by the President and Headquarters Staff. It is composed of Unit Leaders and others as specified in the CAF Bylaws.

The Headquarters Staff, under the direction of the President/CEO, sets CAF operational policy, administration and direction. The HQ Staff conducts daily business operations and directs operation of all CAF Units.  The Headquarters Staff includes the staff of the AAHM, as the CEO of the CAF is also the CEO of the AAHM.

Duties and responsibilities of each of these groups are outlined as follows:

1.  General Staff

a. The CAF is governed by an eleven (11) member General Staff, which serves as the corporate Board of Directors. b. General Staff Officers serve term(s) of three (3) years and are elected by the membership at the annual general membership meeting in the manner prescribed in the CAF Bylaws. In accordance with CAF Bylaws: no member of the General Staff shall be elected to more than two (2) consecutive three (3) year terms in office or serve more than eight (8) consecutive years in office resulting from any combination of elected and/or appointed terms.

c. The General Staff establishes Executive Limitations for the CEO, based on the Policy Governance model. The General Staff is required to meet a minimum of five (5) times each year.

2.  Advisory Board

a. The Advisory Board is composed of Unit Leaders and other members as the President/CEO may appoint in accordance with the CAF Bylaws. Meetings of this Board coincide with the annual CAF Conference held by Headquarters.

b. The purpose of the Advisory Board is to advise the President/CEO on any CAF related subject submitted to the Advisory Board by the President.

c. Unit Staff Officers or individual CAF members may submit, through the Headquarters Staff, recommended issues to be considered by the President/CEO as agenda items for the Advisory Board during the annual CAF Conference.

d. Additional guests may actively participate in the annual CAF Conference at the invitation of the President/CEO. Guests will be those with expert knowledge of any subject necessary to assist the Advisory Board in discharging its responsibilities.

e. The annual CAF Conference is the regular meeting of the Advisory Board. Special meetings may be called by the President/CEO as deemed necessary.

f. The President/CEO shall prepare the agenda and serve as Chairman of the annual CAF Conference.

3.  Headquarters Administrative Staff

a. CAF Headquarters Administrative Staff makes daily operational decisions and conducts business in accordance with policies and guides established by the President/CEO. The CAF Headquarters staff includes all employees of the AAHM.

b. CAF Headquarters Administrative Staff has authority and responsibility for management of all aspects of CAF corporate business.

c. CAF Headquarters Administrative Staff oversees and directs the operation of all CAF aircraft and ground vehicles. This includes aircraft and ground vehicles assigned to Airbases, Wings, Squadrons, Sponsor Groups and Individuals.

d. CAF Headquarters Administrative Staff supervises CAF aircraft maintenance at Headquarters, Airbase, Wing, Squadron, Sponsor Group and Individual Sponsor levels. They are also tasked to ensure that all maintenance and restoration projects are completed by qualified personnel, all financial matters are documented in accordance with the Chief Financial Officer/Secretary/Treasurer’s accounting guidelines (Unit Finance Guide) and all Unit reports are performed in accordance with high professional standards.



The AAHM’s Board of Directors is comprised of CAF General Staff members and others ensuring that the NAEC is the flagship of the AAHM and functions as the educational complement to the Commemorative Air Force


The AAHFM board of directors has CAF General Staff members and others ensuring that the AAHFM functions in coordination with and for the general benefit of the Commemorative Air Force.  Administrative support for the AAHFM is provided through the CAF Headquarters’ Administrative Staff. The AAHFM is specifically focused on the CAF’s fleet of aircraft.


The AAHF board of directors has CAF General Staff members, and others ensuring that the AAHF functions in coordination with and for the general benefit of the Commemorative Air Force.  Administrative support for the AAHF is provided through the CAF Headquarters Administrative Staff.  The AAHF is specifically focused on the CAF’s endowment.


A. General

A CAF Unit is defined as an auxiliary group of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Units are comprised of CAF members and organized for the primary purpose of supporting the mission, goals and objectives of the CAF. Units are chartered by CAF Headquarters (HQ). Units shall actively promote and participate in developing the fleet of CAF aircraft. Units are also expected to promote and participate in other worthwhile projects on local, regional or national levels.

The term Unit includes all CAF Airbases, Wings, Squadrons, Detachments, Sponsor Groups and Individual Sponsors.

B. The Objectives of CAF Units

The CAF Units are organized for the following purposes:

1.  Support the Educational Mission of the CAF

Educate, Inspire, and Honor

This is accomplished primarily through restoring, maintaining and flying historic aircraft, exposing the public to the stories of the men and women who built, maintained and flew these aircraft and delivering both formal and informal educational programming that aligns with the CAF mission.

2.  Increase Membership and Sponsorship

CAF Units increase CAF membership and sponsorship by providing a place where members may actively participate in CAF activities within reasonable distances of their homes.

3.  Restore CAF Aircraft

CAF Units restore CAF aircraft by recruiting and organizing highly qualified restoration and maintenance personnel from throughout its designated area and providing necessary shop facilities and funding to handle restoration projects. Additionally, other volunteers with less extensive restoration backgrounds can learn under the supervision of qualified mentors.

4.  Operate and Maintain CAF Aircraft

CAF Units maintain and operate CAF aircraft which are assigned to the Unit by the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum or which may be acquired by the Unit as an approved project.

5.  Develop a Support Team for Assigned Aircraft

To achieve the safe operation of CAF aircraft, Units should develop teams of dedicated volunteers to support the aircraft. An Aircraft Support Team is composed of three elements, each with different duties and responsibilities:

• Flight Crew (Operation, Safety, Training)

• Maintenance Crew (Restoration, Preservation, Safety)

• Ground Support Team (Funding, Public Affairs, Safety)

The duties of each of the Support Teams are as the titles indicate, however each can be expanded to fit the teams' needs. The details of the development and operation of the Aircraft Support Team are found in Section 4 of this manual.

In addition to Aircraft Support Teams, Units should develop the maximum potential of the entire Unit membership as a support team for the Unit. Many duties are necessary to maintain a successful Unit. Other duties may include administrators, fundraising, public relations, speakers, photographers, writers, accountants, newsletter, web and social media editors, Unit historian, and a variety of other talents necessary for effective Unit operation.

  1. Develop Technical Detachments

CAF Units develop Detachments for technical duties, as required by the Unit or CAF Headquarters. Detachments may be created in areas where sufficient qualified personnel are available from the Unit's designated area.

National Examples of Detachments are:

• Explosives Ordnance Detachment

• Aircraft Marshalling Detachment

There is a greater need for the specialty of certain Detachments than for others. If sufficient qualified personnel are available with competent leadership, certain Detachment skills can be utilized to support other Units. 

In many instances, Unit sponsored flying activities call for these skills to be available to complement the local event on an abbreviated scale. Should a Unit organize a subordinate Detachment, it is recommended they use the National Detachment as a resource for information, techniques and training.

If a Detachment is formed as a subordinate of an existing Unit, it will function in accordance with regulations governing subordinate Squadrons outlined in Section 7 of this manual.

C. Unit Duties and Responsibilities

1.  Membership

It shall be a primary duty of Unit Staff Officers and every Unit member to give each qualified member in the Unit an opportunity to participate in Unit activities. All Unit members must be dues paid members of the CAF (Colonels, Preservation Colonels, Life , Gold Life, and Platinum Life Members or Cadets) before attaining Unit membership. Membership is defined in Section 10, Article II.

  1. Aircraft Sponsorship The Aircraft Sponsorship Program is a very important factor in the continued successful operation of the CAF fleet. Although financial ability is never a prerequisite for CAF membership or participation, all members should be made aware of the privileges and opportunities of the Aircraft Sponsorship Program and encouraged to participate. It is an important responsibility of the Unit to develop maximum sponsor participation. Unit activities should attract as many non member attendees as possible to support a continuing new member and aircraft sponsor recruiting effort. (See Unit Manual Section 6 for details regarding the Aircraft Sponsorship Program.)

  2. Unit Projects

    The Unit will always maintain one or more active projects. The number and type of projects should be balanced with the available volunteer manpower, Unit finances and member expertise. Members who are engaged in a Unit’s activities are more likely to remain members and encourage others to join. The Unit may assume a locally sourced project with approval from CAF Headquarters or may request a project from Headquarters.

    The success of the Unit, or a project, is dependent upon the skill, ability, dedication, and enthusiasm of Unit members. It is only through proper motivation and inspiration derived from Unit activities and capable Unit leadership that this dedication and enthusiasm can be sustained and cultivated.

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