PRESS RELEASE – The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) – the world’s largest flying museum announced plans to create new CAF Units in selected cities across the country. The organization has identified four locations to focus on – Huntsville, Ala., Birmingham, Ala., Bowling Green, Ky., and Smyrna, Tenn. These cities were chosen based on strong community interest in the CAF’s mission. While the campaign will target these selected cities, Unit locations can be started in any community, and all inquiries are welcome.
CAF Units serve as auxiliaries of the national organization, providing local communities with the opportunity to experience and honor America’s military aviation history. The 65-year-old organization has more than 80 Units and 170 aircraft world-wide.
“Each year, more and more of our nation’s history is lost to the ravages of time, and it is our responsibility to help ensure that history is preserved and remembered. To do this, we need continued public support to honor the memory of the nation’s World War II heroes and the aircraft they flew,” said Hank Coates, president, Commemorative Air Force.
As part of the campaign, the CAF is reserving a World War II-era trainer aircraft – a PT-19 Cornell – for assignment. During World War II, the PT-19 Cornell was used extensively to train hundreds of thousands of Allied pilots. The open-cockpit and simple mechanical design made this aircraft a favorite among pilots.
“Over this past very challenging year, we’ve been amazed by the strong interest from people across the country to establish a CAF Unit in their hometown,” said Coates. “We’re thrilled that so many people continue to be inspired to honor our nation’s military aviation heritage, and we’re excited to help them bring a vintage World War II warbird to their community.”
The CAF has created a dedicated website https://commemorativeairforce.org/pages/newunit to guide the process for establishing a new Unit. This website includes a step-by-step guide and general requirements needed to successfully establish a new CAF Unit.
“Operating a CAF Unit has been among the most rewarding personal experiences I’ve ever had,” said Gerald Oliver, a CAF member who mentors others through the process of establishing a new Unit. “The opportunity to join a community that supports such an important mission, to recognize our World War II heroes, and to help ensure their lessons are passed on to future generations, has been an honor.”
Founded in 1957, the Commemorative Air Force 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.