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Airbase Arizona and the Commemorative Air Force

Airbase Arizona and the Commemorative Air Force

Aviation enthusiasts of all kinds should visit this museum. A C-47 Skytrain known as Old Number 30 can be found amongst many historic aircraft that make up its collection.

The Arizona Wing is home to some of the world’s finest warbirds, as well as training cadets in military aviation skills. You don’t need to be a pilot in order to join CAF; anyone can join!

Airbase Arizona Flying Museum

The Airbase Arizona Flying Museum, part of Dallas’ Commemorative Air Force, presents military aviation history through exhibits. Additionally, visitors can book flights in historic aircraft through a living history program at this museum.

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In 1966, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) realized that their WWII and 1950s aircraft were being scrapped for scrap metal. To preserve them for future generations, some were set aside as museum pieces; by 1974 the museum had opened to the public.

Since its opening, the museum has grown immensely and now comprises six indoor exhibit hangars on 80 acres. It now holds over 400 historic aircraft from Wright Flyers to 787 Dreamliners; several still flying aircraft like a B-17G Flying Fortress and C-47 Skytrain cargo/transport plane are also part of its collection.

Many of the museum’s aircraft have been lovingly restored back to their original condition for educational use and are taken out on shows and events around the country. Furthermore, this museum offers interactive exhibits as well as its historic aircraft.

One such feature of the museum is the “Walk of Honor,” a tribute to those who have made contributions in military aviation. Conceived by Lt. Colonel Rhodes Arnold himself, this tribute features bronze plaques with information about veterans from different wars who made significant contributions.

Airbase Arizona Flying Museum features not only a museum but also a bustling airfield, located 20 minutes from Phoenix International Airport and offering low landing fees as well as plenty of hangar space and tie-down space. Visitors interested in visiting can avail themselves of special Family Fun Day rates which take place every first Saturday of the month.

The museum provides visitors with a thrilling Living History Program that gives them a taste of history through recreations of historical events, including flying planes or dressing up as WWII uniforms – making this activity an interactive way of learning about military aviation’s rich history and its development through time.


The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the preservation and commemoration of historic combat aircraft and honoring those who served in America’s military. 

Members support their mission with donations, tour receipts, airshow appearance fees, merchandise sales and merchandise donations; its own fleet of historic aircraft are operated and it assists other flying organizations such as aerobatic demonstration teams.

The CAF was formed in 1957 by a small group of pilots pooling their money together to purchase a P-51 Mustang. Over time, additional aircraft from World War II such as P-38 Lightnings, F8F Bearcats and B-24 Liberators joined their collection – their mission soon becoming clear: saving an example of every warplane ever flown during World War II. 

Today the CAF boasts over 12,000 members across 27 states and four foreign countries with 70 wings or detachments that span across both ages 18+ while those not eligible can join as cadets – while young people are encouraged to get involved throughout all aspects of participation within this organization.

At an airshow, visitors can view historic aircraft alongside living history encampments and aviation activity centers. Veterans Voices program participants also make themselves available throughout the day for meeting with visitors if desired.

This year’s AIRSHO featured several unique demonstrations, such as a recreation of a rescue of a downed pilot in Vietnam by L-19 and O-2A forward air controller planes while A-1 Skyraider, T-28, and A-26 fighters made enemy suppression passes.

AIRSHO is home to not only historic military aircraft, but also some of the most sought-after civilian aerobatic performers. Visitors can get up close and personal with these incredible aircraft while witnessing breathtaking displays by skilled performers – not forgetting pyrotechnic groups that simulate bombing raids and strafing runs!

The Midland International Air and Space Port in Midland/Odessa, Texas hosts the CAF High Sky Wing’s annual Air Show (AIRSHO). Attracting thousands of attendees each year, this event provides businesses an ideal platform for showcasing their products and services while visitors have access to historical aircraft rides as they learn more about air power history.

CAF Historic Flights

The Commemorative Air Force boasts over 70 wings that keep some of history’s most iconic airplanes airborne. Unlike warbird museums that may close off their restored aircraft to visitors, CAF wings actually operate them for exhibition and flight opportunities, providing exhibit and flight opportunities as well. 

Furthermore, in addition to operating and maintaining their planes for exhibit and flight opportunities, CAF wings participate in educational programs and aviation-related activities.

As soon as the CAF’s founding colonels first started searching for World War II-era aircraft to save and preserve, they were alarmed to discover that planes that played such an essential part in America’s victory were being quickly dismantled for scrap. Thousands of rare and beautiful treasures were soon to become scrap metal; only a handful survived in flying condition today.

From 1960, the Colonial Air Force has worked tirelessly to bring these magnificent airplanes back into flying condition and ensure that they will remain available to future generations. Their mission is to honor all who served with America’s military aircraft forces by keeping these historical aircraft alive and flying through future generations.

Joining the CAF is easy. Anyone interested in preserving and flying these historic machines can join as a Colonel by making an annual commitment of $200. Membership is open to men and women of 18 years or older; certain units also offer cadet programs for younger members aged 13-17.

As well as its usual events and education programs, the CAF also hosts special fundraising initiatives in order to cover the costs associated with maintaining its historic aircraft in flying condition. These fundraising initiatives include airshows, museum admission fees, ticketed flight experiences and more.

The CAF’s latest fundraising endeavor, the “Rise Above” touring educational program, celebrates the courage and perseverance of African American Tuskegee Airmen who overcame racism and discrimination to become pilots for U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. The Arizona Model Aircrafters from Scottsdale provide stunning one-quarter and one-sixth scale models of these historic aircraft.

CAF Ghost Squadrons

The CAF Ghost Squadrons are the airborne component of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). Their collection of historic aircraft are used to commemorate, remember, and reinforce lessons from significant moments in American military aviation history – reminding present and future generations that our nation’s great generation made no sacrifice in vain.

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Established in 1957, the CAF started with one man and his passion for flying: Lloyd Nolen was born in Mercedes, Texas and quickly took an interest in aviation at an early age. Soloing his first plane at 16 he earned his pilot’s license at 19. Unfortunately due to poor eyesight he couldn’t join Army Air Corps as a flight cadet so established his own flying school instead.

Nolen and his friends pooled their resources in 1957 to purchase a P-51 Mustang named Red Nose. Soon thereafter, they came to realize that only a handful of World War II-era aircraft remained. America produced nearly 300,000. Of those aircraft survived 15 years later but most had either been decommissioned, stripped for parts, abandoned or scrapped without anyone from either Air Force or Navy attempting to save them.

By 1960, the group started actively searching for other WWII aircraft but quickly discovered that few remained flying condition. Thus in 1961, the CAF was established as a non-profit Texas corporation to restore and preserve WW2-era combat aircraft.

Today, the CAF comprises an international network of wings and squadrons in both the United States and three foreign countries; each maintains a fleet of historic aircraft for preservation purposes. As one of the premier aviation preservation organizations worldwide, their headquarters can be found in Midland, Texas.

In 1991, the CAF’s national headquarters and Airpower Museum opened. Today it stands as one of the most diverse warbird collections worldwide with 165 classic military aircraft from each branch of US Armed Forces.

The CAF’s mission is to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition an extensive collection of fighter aircraft used by all branches of the United States Armed Forces as well as select international nations during pivotal moments in American military aviation history. 

They operate as a non-profit tax-exempt organization supported by members and donors – an all-volunteer organization open to men and women aged 18+ who become known as Colonels.


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