Following up on the “CAF National Airbase” plan announced earlier this year, at a press conference held this morning at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) announced that the organization had narrowed down the field of potential locations for the group’s flagship facility and national headquarters to eight finalists.
The press conference which featured CAF President/CEO Stephan C. Brown addressing those assembled, talking about the search process, which began in May of this year. According to Brown there were more than 25 interested and viable locations, and after careful consideration of each potential location, the CAF Board of Directors has narrowed the list to (alphabetical by airport):
Alliance Airport, Ft. Worth, Texas
Collin County Airport, McKinney, Texas (Dallas Metropolitan)
Dallas Executive Airport, Dallas, Texas
Ellington Field Airport, Houston, Texas
Lackland/Kelly Airport, San Antonio, Texas
New Century Airport, Kansas City/Olathe, Kansas
North Texas Regional Airport, Sherman/Dennison, Texas (Dallas Metropolitan)
Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport, Smyrna, Tennessee (Nashville Metropolitan)
“Each of these eight locations has the potential to help propel the Commemorative Air Force to a higher plane of awareness and national impact,” said Brown. “Our mission is education – such that Americans will value and support the contributions of military aviation in assuring our nation’s freedom. In order to reach and impact the largest audience possible, the CAF is in need of a strong location that offers a significant permanent population as well as a thriving tourism opportunity.”
“We were excited to see strong interest from many communities across the country which our team carefully evaluated,” said Brown. “The CAF Board of Directors worked closely with international real estate and consulting firm, Jones Lang LaSalle to host a bidders’ conference in Dallas in early June where 23 locations were represented. Within the few short weeks following the conference, the Board of Directors received 18 inquiries from across the country. After carefully scrutinizing each location, the board narrowed potential sites to these eight strong prospects. Over the next few months, the CAF Board of Directors will conduct an extensive investigation, proposal and negotiation process to further narrow the potential sites and ultimately select a new location.”
At the CAF Annual General Membership Meeting in October 2013, the CAF membership will vote to give the CAF Board of Directors the authority to select the location of the National Airbase from the list of finalists. While the members will not directly vote to select the final location, CAF members will authorize their member-elected board of directors to make the best decision for the future of the CAF. The formal voting process will require three-fourths approval of the voting membership. At the conclusion of an externally-audited vote, the CAF Board of Directors will begin the next stage of the selection process.
Each of the eight locations will be thoroughly analyzed to ensure the final selection accommodates all of the criteria put forth by the Board of Directors. The home of the new CAF National Airbase and Headquarters operation will be located in a major metropolitan area with a minimum population of one million with ease of access to tourists and CAF membership through a nearby major international airport and an infrastructure of interstate highways. Other criteria included:
Approximately 150 to 200 acres adjacent to an airport capable of supporting CAF facilities, operations and a significant fly-in or Air Show
Strong local demographics and easy access to a large pool of potential visitors and members
A major reliever airport with limited scheduled carrier activity
Open airspace around and above the airport
Runway length of 7,000 by 150 feet or more
Visibility and ease of access
Room and ability to grow
Cooperative airport management and tower
Runways, taxiways and ramp areas capable of handling the aircraft of the CAF fleet
The CAF National Airbase facility will feature a year-round aviation attraction, house Headquarters staff and member-volunteers who will organize and execute an annual warbird Air Show and fly-in, and be a base of operations for some of the CAF’s most significant flying vintage military aircraft.
Brown said the CAF Board of Directors envisions this new National Airbase as the pinnacle of the organization’s 60 existing facilities currently spread over 28 states and maintained by the CAF’s 10,000 member-volunteers.
“The CAF National Airbase will house and serve as a stage to share a rotating group of the most significant military aviation assets in history,” Brown concluded. “For more than 55 years we have been restoring, maintaining and operating the world’s largest fleet of flying vintage military aircraft and we expect this Airbase to become a premier destination for the chosen host city.”