Commemorative Air Force Blogs

Welcome to the Commemorative Air Force Blogs. A great way to stay informed about what is going on with the CAF.

CAF President Stephan Brown chronicles his journey from unit to unit examining the big topics of the organization.

Play a part in CAF RISE ABOVE:WASP

Play a part in CAF RISE ABOVE:WASP

The Commemorative Air Force has a very important campaign underway - and I want to ask for your support. The CAF RISE ABOVE: WASP is a new national educational initiative. Announced this initiative has several components which will benefit the CAF all the way down to the unit's and individual member's benefit.

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The three main components of CAF RISE ABOVE: WASP are:

1.) Members: This program, will be supported by the first-ever CAF WASP Squadron. This new squadron led by CAF Col Debbie King. Debbie and about 20 other CAF Colonels have formed the initial squadron and are seeking more charter members. (see below, how to join)

2.) Aircraft: For this program the CAF plans to acquire a WASP provenance AT-6 aircraft. One of the training aircraft that was flown by WASP in Sweetwater, Texas. This aircraft has been found and optioned for purchase. This aircraft will be flown and maintained by the new CAF WASP Squadron.

3.) Educational Film: A new proprietary film - Rise Above: WASP – is being produced with similar goals as Rise Above: Red Tail. This interactive film will tell the story of the WASP using new-technology to engage the viewer. The objective of the film with be to educate but also use the WASP story to inspire young girls and boys to "rise above" their circumstances in order to achieve their dreams.

4.) Unit-level Educational Program: We have identified a portable, inflatable dome-theater that can be acquired and utilized by all CAF units to make an educational impact within their local communities. With the existing and reformatted Rise Above: Red Tail and the to-be-produced Rise Above: WASP films, all units would have a high-quality, consistent educational base program to take to their local schools and/or to draw members of the community to their locations.

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As you can see, this is a historic and highly impactful program for the CAF. We have a huge supporter and leader of our fundraising committee in CAF National WASP Program Chair Heather Penney. Heather was one of the first female F-16 combat pilots and was one of two F-16 pilots on watch on Sept. 11, 2001; prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation's capital. Heather, Debbie and all of the leadership of the CAF is asking for your support in this effort. We have an amazing promo video, narrated by 3-time Academy Award Nominated actress; Sigourney Weaver. To watch click here.

So, how can you help?

1. You can help this project by financial support. Donations can be made by clicking here. Any amount is appreciated.

1. You can also help by spreading the word about this new project. Sharing this link- https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/caf/trailblazing-women-pilots-honoring-the-wasp

Sharing this link with your friends via email or on social media, like Facebook will really help get our message to a larger audience. The more people who learn about this program, the better!

This program shows our leadership in the aviation and educational community and is something that all of you can be proud of, as members of the CAF. 

Please click on the Kickstarter link and support this program and encourage others you know to do the same.

Let's Keep the CAF Flying and moving forward!

Steve

P.S. I mentioned before that a new CAF WASP Squadron is forming. If you would like to join that squadron, please click here for the CAF WASP Squadron Application.

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Thank you Bob!

It is with a mixture of sadness and excitement that I announce that Bob Stenevik will retire from full-time employment from the CAF, effective July 15th. I am sad because for over 10 years “Uncle Bob” has been an institution here at the CAF. When Bob came on board, it was because the CAF had a problem with Safety and needed to change the way we operated and maintained our aircraft. Because of Bob’s extensive knowledge and even more intensive focus, our processes were overhauled and our safety record since his hiring speaks to the impact he has made.

Bob StenevikPersonally, Bob has been a fabulous employee and also a mentor to many – including me. His style is unique and storied throughout the industry. If it can be summed up succinctly, Bob is a no nonsense, straight-shooter and because of that, he is universally respected. His professionalism has reflected upon the entire CAF, such that we now occupy the leadership role with the FAA and other warbird organizations – where we belong.

I am excited for Bob and especially for Libby, so that he can now enjoy more time traveling with her and working in his beloved wood-work shop. Also, Bob has agreed to remain a consultant to the CAF to help in any way that he is needed in the transition or special projects where his experience and expertise is needed. Effective April 15th, Bob will relinquish the title and duties as the VP of Operations and Maintenance and will focus the reminder of his full-time employment on completing the new Living History Flight Experience (LHFE) exemption.

Bob has reached the point of comfort in his ability to retire because of the outstanding staff he has built around him and so I am happy to announce the following:

Effective April 15th David Oliver will be promoted to - CAF Vice President of Operations and Maintenance. In a short number of years, David has proven his capabilities in Operations and Maintenance. As the Operations Officer and PIC in the B29/B24 Squadron, David helped build the Airpower History Tour and earned the respect of his peers in the Squadron and around the CAF. David recently moved to the HQ Staff as the Director of Operations and Maintenance has performed admirably in that role.

Additionally, Jim Lasche will be promoted to Director of Operations and Maintenance. In a short time, Jim has made a large impact by taking charge of the new drug testing program for the CAF. Although outside the original scope of work for which Jim was hired, he has jumped in with both feet to keep the CAF compliant by creating and overseeing this complex program.

All three of these gentlemen are to be congratulated!
Steve
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An Opportunity to Thank You

An Opportunity to Thank You

The month of April is national volunteer month. For the Commemorative Air Force, an organization which relies almost exclusively on volunteers, April gives us an opportunity to give credit where it is due, and that is to you, the members.

An important piece of my job is explaining to others how the largest flying museum is able to continue to operate. The short answer is, our members! Day in and day out, our members work across the country, maintaining aircraft, engaging communities and inspiring the next generation of Americans to honor their past by succeeding in the future.

This month we will publish profiles of many CAF members that have played a role in making the CAF successful. Of course we will not be able to feature the entire membership, which is now up to more than 12,000 people, but we would like to recognize the many ways our members make a difference.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for supporting and working tirelessly to fulfill the CAF’s Mission.

Steve

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WASP Call to Action

Group of Women Airforce Service Pilots and B 17 Flying Fortress
 
Dear Members;
I received an email from CAF Life Member Carl Mattson, who alerted me to an issue, where your help is needed. As you probably know, the WASP (Women Air Service Pilots) had finally received veteran status in 1977 and in 2002, Arlington National Cemetery found the WASP eligible to receive standard honors. Unfortunately, according to a recent Fox news report, there is an issue. In a statement, Army spokesman Paul Prince said the cemetery superintendent in 2002 had no authority to allow WASPS' remains into the cemetery. Under federal law, he said, WASPs are eligible only for burial at cemeteries run by the Department of Veterans Affairs — not Arlington National Cemetery, which is run by the Army.
 
I reached out to CAF COL Heather Penney, our Rise Above WASP Chairwoman and asked for her input on this matter. Below is her response and recommended action for you to help right this wrong.

The WASP were pioneering and courageous women who answered the nation’s call to duty. When the Army Air Forces were short on airmen and outcome of the war still uncertain, these women volunteered against much social prejudice and skepticism. General Hap Arnold, commanding general of the Army Air Forces (the precursor to the U.S. Air Force), intended to militarize the WASP, but because their service was so desperately needed he placed the WASP in a civilian capacity to expedite their creation.

 Unlike other women’s service auxiliaries, the WASP performed the exact same domestic missions that men did, freeing male pilots to go overseas at a time when the outcome of the war was in peril. The WASP flew every aircraft type in the Army Air Forces, and performed every kind of flying mission needed in the domestic United States from instruction, target towing, flight test, and aircraft ferry and delivery. The WASP met (and often exceeded) all military physical requirements, took and passed the same military training, and executed military missions - but because their military status had been deferred, they did so with no benefits, no recognition, and for far less pay.

Their military service was finally recognized by Congress in 1977, who granted the WASP long overdue veteran status. In 2002, Arlington National Cemetery found the WASP eligible to receive standard honors. And in 2010, the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their valiant and pioneering service. These women are veterans, and deserve to be treated and honored as such.

 Representatives Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) and Susan Davis (D-Calif.) have introduced The Women Airforce Service Pilots Arlington Restoration Act (HR4336) in the House to allow the cremated remains of the WASP to be placed in Arlington. Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Jodi Ernst (R-Iowa) have introduced a similar bill (S2437) in the Senate. Please, contact your representatives and urge them to support these bills to allow the WASP to be placed in Arlington, as is their due; their right to their last rites should not subject to the whims of the Army lawyers.

As Heather suggests, I urge you to reach out to your representatives in the House and Senate and urge them to pass these bills.
Steve
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It's been a very big year!

It's been a very big year!

As I sit to write the final column of 2015, the first thought that pops into my mind is: A lot has been accomplished this year! Unfortunately, we don’t have the space to outline all of the amazing things that the wings, squadrons, sponsor groups and detachments have done across the country this year. I read the unit newsletters that are sent to me—feel free to add me to your mailing list—and am amazed at all the cool happenings across the CAF. Keep up the great work, and know that you are accomplishing the CAF’s mission!

From a national recognition perspective, the Arsenal of Democracy (AOD) was a huge leap forward in the worldwide profile of World War II warbirds and the CAF. Having 56 aircraft fly down Independence Avenue in Washington, D.C., on the 70th anniversary of VE Day, was a sight unseen in recent memory and a real feather in the cap of all who worked on it—including U.S. governmental agencies, which found a way to make it happen. All of our members should be proud that the CAF was so strongly represented, alongside friends in the warbird world, as Washington, D.C., came to a standstill to gaze skyward as history flew overhead. And the presence of more than 300 WWII veterans on hand was moving to both participants and observers alike.

The CAF also gained international attention this year with the rescue and acquisition of the lead D-Day C-47, That’s All, Brother. The popularity of this project became overwhelmingly apparent when the Kickstarter fundraising campaign exceeded all expectations. With a boost from Hollywood actor and military adviser Dale Dye, along with 93-year-old D-Day paratrooper Jim “Pee Wee” Martin, That’s All, Brother was a big hit at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and the airplane is now beginning the first stage of restoration.

With those two projects came a growing social media popularity. We have gone from 40,000 Facebook followers a year ago, to over 130,000 as of November. But, what does that mean? Well, it means that when someone sees your airplane or the logo on your shirt, the odds of them knowing about the CAF and liking what we do is much greater than just a year ago. And this knowledge leads to more of everything: members, riders, donors, PX sales, participants, etc.

The Headquarters Staff completed a big year, by physically moving their families, offices and artifacts out of Midland and into the offices at Dallas Executive Airport. As you can imagine, this was hard for those with families, as well as staff members who had lived in Midland/Odessa for decades. I am grateful to these dedicated employees who have sacrificed a lot for the organization that they love. It wasn’t easy, and all departments ended up shorthanded by the last days in Midland, so I want to publicly thank all of them for sticking with us.

Finally, we have made quite a bit of progress as an organization over the past few years. Since 2006, the entire CAF has more than doubled in size, from a financial standpoint. In 2005, when you wrap up all revenue from the units in the field and Headquarters, we had gross revenue of just under $13 million. In 2014, 10 years later, we had gross revenue of just over $27 million! That is outstanding work in the field, and every member should feel proud that their efforts have resulted in this growth. And from everything I see going on around the CAF, I am sure that this trend will continue!

I wish you and your families very happy and healthy holiday season. And hope you are excited, as am I, to begin another fantastic year with the Commemorative Air Force!

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