Update: 4/30/2014: Now with additional photographs
The Commemorative Air Force announced just moments ago, after a year-long study, that they have selected the city of Dallas, Texas for their National Air Base. Their new headquarters will move from their current home in Midland, Texas to a new facility, yet to be constructed, at Dallas Executive Airport (KRBD) in the suburbs just south of the city center. The transition will obviously take a little while, but it is the first step in a major re-organization which will see additional Air Bases set up around the country, and potentially overseas.
Dallas meets all of the criteria the CAF set for choosing the National Air Base location, that the airfield had to be located in a major metropolitan area with effective highway access, and had to have the right sized airfield, with economic incentives as well as a strong tourism draw. Perhaps most importantly, Dallas is a major hub for domestic and international air carriers, making travel to and from the location easier, and more economical for potential visitors… something which was never true for Midland, or Harlingen before it. Once the new facilities are ready, CAF staff will move on site, and the historic artifacts and aircraft will arrive. As we mentioned just a few weeks ago, the B24A “Diamond Lil” and B-29 “Fifi” will become permanently based at the new National Air Base after several years in Addison, Texas with the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, and more recently with the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth.
Rest assured Warbirds News will be bringing you further details as they become available.
Update: 4/29/14 12:29pm EST
Here are some further details taken directly from this morning’s CAF Press Release – Photos will be forthcoming.
The CAF will move a few initial staff in 2014, with the full operations of its Headquarters arriving in Dallas by the end of 2015. “We also have the goal of constructing a world-class aviation visitor attraction, unlike any other in the United States,” said Brown. “It will educate and entertain young and old alike using the very best of modern display techniques, including interactive displays, 4D movie experiences and hyper-realistic flight simulators. We will also be using the most interactive assets we have – the largest fleet of flying vintage military aircraft in the world. And to that end, we are announcing our plans to raise the funds necessary to build this facility, initially estimated at $40 million.”
“This will be a major tourism and educational asset for the City of Dallas” said Adam Smith, CAF Executive Vice President and National Airbase Project Leader. “We have a unique opportunity at this location to inspire hundreds of thousands of children and adults with some incredible airplanes and also to share the important stories the aircraft carry, of human endeavor and sacrifice in the name of freedom.”
“I can see yellow school busses dropping our children off to learn history through the sights, sounds and smells of real aircraft, not just a computer screen,” Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Tennell Atkins echoed. “Seeing these aircraft fly makes history real. I am especially excited about the CAF’s ‘Rise Above’ initiative which uses a Red Tail P-51 Mustang and the lessons of the Tuskegee Airmen to show our youth that if these brave men could ‘rise above’ their circumstances of discrimination to fight for their country, then they too can rise above their own circumstances to succeed.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings led the pursuit of the CAF and his team worked closely with the CAF and its consultant Jones Lange LaSalle over the past year to agree to terms and find the right location on the airport.
“I told the CAF folks from the start that Dallas was the only clear choice for their National Airbase. I am excited they agreed and look forward to their role in helping our city grow south,” Mayor Rawlings said. “The CAF will be a welcome addition to the museum and educational community here in Dallas, and it will provide cultural and recreational activities for residents and visitors alike.”
Along with the planned year-round public attraction, the CAF plans to hold up to three major events per year; including an annual World War II airshow. CAF’s 164 aircraft nationwide perform in over three hundred air shows per year, nine of which the organization produces itself.
“Our goal is to make the Dallas airshow the preeminent ‘Warbird’ airshow in the nation,” said Brown. “We plan to bring in aircraft and re-enactors from all over the country so the community can enjoy a family event unlike any other.”
CAF’s National Airbase will become the permanent home to the world’s only flying B-29 Superfortess FIFI and the B-24 Liberator Diamond Lil one of only two left flying. Other exciting fighters, cargo and transport aircraft will also make Dallas Executive their home. On display at the press conference were the B-29, B-24, P-51C Tuskegee Airmen, B-17 Texas Raiders, A-26 Invader, C-45 Bucket of Bolts, R4D Ready for Duty, P-40 as well as several other World War II warbirds.
The CAF reached initial terms with the City’s Economic Development and Aviation Departments in early April and the City Council’s consideration of a proposed lease and associated financial arrangements will take place in the near future.
Click HERE to see some of WarbirdsNews reports on the CAF from the past year.
See the slide show for additional photographs…