Midland/Odessa, Texas - The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) today announced plans to establish the CAF National Airbase at a major metropolitan area and its intent to launch a nationwide search immediately. The new facility, described by CAF officials as an "Airbase," will contain a year-round aviation attraction, house CAF Staff and support volunteer CAF members who will organize and execute an annual warbird air show/fly-in. This new Airbase will also serve as a base of operations for some of the CAF's most significant flying vintage military aircraft.
"The Commemorative Air Force's mission is Education - such that Americans will value and support the contributions of military aviation in assuring our nation's freedom. But, in today's environment, we have to find new ways to educate and break away from traditional and increasingly outdated methods," said CAF President/CEO Stephan C. Brown. "The CAF plans to establish several Airbases at key locations around the country. At each Airbase, the public attraction will contain flying vintage military aircraft combined with interactive educational displays, entertaining activities and an annual airshow. Additionally, the CAF will look to partner with other leading innovative, historical, educational and entertainment based organizations to accomplish its mission."
The CAF, which was founded more than 55 years ago, is dedicated to maintaining and flying its fleet of 156 vintage military aircraft in order to educate Americans on the history and importance of our country's efforts to protect freedom through airpower. Brown said the CAF has concluded a strategic planning initiative that included the "Airbase Strategy," a dynamic 10-year plan designed to continue - and elevate - its educational impact on the American public.
"One of the first steps in the Airbase Strategy is to initiate a search to establish the CAF National Airbase," Brown explained. "The CAF Headquarters has been located in Midland, Texas since 1991 and the CAF will continue its strong presence there. In doing so, the CAF will upgrade the CAF Airpower Museum experience to include more significant airplanes and will continue to produce the annual Midland/Odessa based CAF AIRSHO. The CAF is a core part of the culture in West Texas and will continue to be such even as we reach out to increase our national prominence." Brown added that if a suitable location is found for the National Airbase, the Board of Directors has made the decision to relocate its Headquarters' personnel and operations.
Brown said the CAF's ongoing efforts to honor American military aviation would be best served by influencing a larger segment of the American population as well as international visitors to the U.S.
"This can only be accomplished by establishing a world-class attraction at a location which has a significant population, with a strong tourism component," he said. "Sites under consideration need to meet minimum runway length and width requirements, as well as a population minimum, economic incentives and tourism potential. The successful location will be a city anxious to host this educational and entertaining attraction."
Brown said the CAF Board of Directors envisions this new National Airbase as the pinnacle of the organization's 60 existing facilities that are currently spread over 28 states and maintained by the CAF's 10,000 member-volunteers.
2009 CAF AIRSHO, the Best Warbird Show in America, will hit the skies Oct. 10 -11, 2009 above Midland International Airport between Midland and Odessa, Texas.
With the support of Western National Bank, the CAF is working to create a full educational plan for area students for AIRSHO 2011.
At nearly $10,000 and 100 volunteer hours per hour of flight, keeping FIFI in the air is no easy task; the cost for repairs to the number two engine and the purchase of a spare will top $250,000.