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Commemorative Air Force Announces $500,000 Matching Grant from Ray Foundation to Fund Completion of Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center

(March 10, 2021) (Dallas) - The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) today announced a generous $500,000 matching grant from the Ray Foundation to aid in funding the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center (Education Center) at the CAF’s headquarters in Dallas. The Ray Foundation will match all funds raised dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000, received through December 31, 2021. The CAF has raised $13 million against a campaign goal of $14 million. The gift comes as construction of the Education Center nears completion this spring.

The Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center will provide hands-on learning activities for all ages. The 47,000 square foot facility includes a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Innovation Hangar where visitors and education program participants will be inspired by aviation and history while learning life skills. The Education Center will begin programs – including the Aerospace Summer Camp for middle school students – this summer and will hold a public grand opening celebration in Fall 2021.

The Ray Foundation was founded by James C. Ray, a decorated World War II pilot, with his wife Joan, to support aviation education initiatives. The James C. Ray Education Wing at the Education Center, named in honor of Mr. Ray, provides 10,000 square feet of dedicated workshop and classroom space outfitted with engineering, science and mechanical resources and equipment. CAF’s education staff are developing hands-on programming for Dallas-area students, as well as for deployment in communities across the country through the organization’s 85 local units, bringing living history lessons to students nationwide.

The Education Center will also include the Brig Gen. Charles McGee and Don Hinz Theater which provides educational content and programming to tell the story of the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. Additionally, the facility will house a gallery featuring nose art from vintage aircraft and a display atrium for a selection of the organization’s extensive collection of World War II artifacts.

Numerous historic aircraft will be based out of the facility, including a rare B-29 Superfortress named FIFI. By having the aircraft on-site, the CAF can educate younger generations about the vital aircraft maintenance and restoration work essential to keeping these vintage planes flying.

Chuck Ahearn, President, Ray Foundation, said “Over the years, we have watched the CAF’s vision for its new facility transform from a dream to a reality. We are very proud to be involved and excited to welcome people through the doors this year. With this this matching gift incentive, we hope to see the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center become fully funded by the end of 2021.”

Hank Coates, President and CEO of the Commemorative Air Force, said “We really appreciate the confidence the Ray Foundation has in us and our ability to design and execute this project. This Education Center is a game changer for the organization, allowing us to fully focus on our education programs in a state-of-the-art dedicated space. We are nearing the finish line for this capital building project. In this last push toward completion, we invite others to join the Ray Foundation in supporting this endeavor.”

Funding for the Education Center has been provided by local and national foundations, corporations, and philanthropic individuals with gifts of all sizes. To learn more about the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center, and to make a donation, visit www.CommemorativeAirForce.org/airbase.

About the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center The mission of The Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center (Education Center) is to Honor the Past, Empower the Future by designing and operating programs that provide hands-on learning opportunities and activities for all ages. Located at Dallas Executive Airport, the Education Center is the flagship of the American Airpower Heritage Museum (AAHM), an affiliate of the Commemorative Air Force.

About the Ray Foundation, Inc. The Naples, Florida based Ray Foundation, Inc. supports programs and organizations nationally, primarily within the field of aviation, that develop life skills such as honesty, work ethic, self-confidence, and self-discipline in young adults.

About the Commemorative Air Force Founded in 1957, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has amassed more than 170 World War II aircraft – the largest collection of vintage military warbirds in the world. Through the work of more than 11,000 volunteers across 83 units, the CAF’s educational outreach programs reach an estimated 20 million Americans each year, providing unique, compelling hands-on access to history. The mission of the CAF is to Educate, Inspire, and Honor through flight and living history experiences.

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