The Commemorative Air Force has published some interesting details on their blog recently regarding their operations in 2014. The article is an overview of the organization’s efforts put into numbers.
As of 2014, The CAF is composed of sixty three units and six sponsor groups. There are also four international units located in Canada, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. CAF Wings are present in twenty five US states and feature twenty five museums. The organization owns 162 warbirds, making it by far the largest flying collection in the world. Nineteen of these aircraft are bombers, twenty eight are fighters, sixty one are trainers, fifteen are transports and thirty nine are liaison/other. As of December, 2014, one hundred and twenty five aircraft in the fleet are in airworthy condition, seventeen are under restoration, eighteen in maintenance and just two in storage. This puts the active operational fleet at 77%, which is an impressive feat in the world of warbirds. If one were to include the CAF aircraft undergoing maintenance, which is usually relatively brief, then the operational status would rise to 88%; a very high percentage for any fleet of aircraft.
In 2014, as of December 11th, CAF aircraft flew 5258.40 hours, gave 4,366 rides and completed more than 6,200 sorties. Many of these flights were performed by airplanes that are the last of their type flying; such as the B-29 Superfortres “FIFI” and SB2C Helldiver. The CAF’s B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil”, SBD-5 Dauntless, P-63 Kingcobra, P-39 Airacobra are each examples with just two of the type still actively flying. The CAF flew eight hundred air show sorties in 2014, organized eight aerial events and performed more than fifty fly-overs before hundreds of thousands of spectators. As one would imagine, the CAF participated in all of the major air shows in the United States.
The CAF is easily the oldest, continually operated warbird flying collection in the United States, with only the UK’s Shuttleworth Collection pre-dating it on a global level. It all started from humble beginnings back in 1957, when Lloyd Nolen and four friends bought a P-51D Mustang, now known as “Old Red Nose”. They bought a pair of Grumman Bearcats in 1958, and haven’t looked back since. The organization has grown rapidly since those early days, with occasional stumbles along the way, as with any organization. But it can be easily argued that without the massive efforts by the CAF and their millions of supporters, there would be far, far fewer vintage military aircraft surviving today, let alone airworthy examples.
The following is a fascinating short film clip showing dating from 1957 showing the P-51D “Red Nose” at Harlingen, Texas, which later became the organizations headquarters for a while.
In April of 2014, the CAF announced they were moving their headquarters along with its associated aircraft to Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas. The museum and its artifacts (including the nose art collection) will also move to Dallas ( Click HERE for WarbirdsNews articles on this story). The move to Dallas should bring a lot more visitors to its new CAF National Airbase once construction is finished. The organization is firmly settling its future health and shows great promise for further growth.