In 1957, a small group of friends from the Rio Grande Valley pooled their money to purchase a P-51 Mustang to share their love of flying. What started as a hobby soon became a mission to preserve an example of every aircraft that flew in World War II.
65 years later, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has grown into the world’s largest flying museum with more than 180 World War II aircraft. The CAF provides living history experiences that educate and entertain millions of families and children each year.
While the CAF has grown into a national organization, it remains a Texas institution. Texas is home to more than half of the CAF’s fleet of vintage aircraft. These iconic warbirds are based at more than 20 CAF units across the state, ready to take to the skies and tell their story.
As you plan your travels across the state, visit one of the CAF’s living history museums, tour the cockpit of a WWII warbird, or book a flight on one of these vintage aircraft.
North Texas is home to several CAF units as well as the organization’s National Airbase headquarters at Dallas Executive Airport. The National Airbase includes the newly opened Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center, which is home to the B-29 Superfortress FIFI (one of only two such bombers still flying), the B-24 Diamond Lil and other iconic warbirds. The NAEC also pays tribute to the famed Tuskegee Airmen and the Women Airforce Service Pilots, our nation’s first female military pilots.
Visitors to North Texas can also catch several thrilling airshows, including CAF Wings Over Dallas Airshow, November 11-13. The interactive event features more than 40 World War II era aircraft performing spectacular flying demonstrations and battle reenactments. Families can also enjoy hands-on educational activities, airplane rides and tours, living history encampments, and conversations with World War II veterans.
No trip to Texas’ Gulf Coast would be complete without visiting the CAF. The CAF’s Houston Wing features a range of WWII flight trainers and troop transport planes as well as hanger tours and a free museum that provides a glimpse into life on the home front during the war.
Don’t miss the famed CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow, October 29-30, which includes a thrilling aerial reenactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Wings Over Houston has been recognized as the third best airshow in the nation, showcasing airpower throughout history—from WWII era to modern military fighters.
The Texas Hill Country is home to several of the CAF’s most iconic World War II aircraft. In Georgetown, visitors can climb aboard the B-25 Mitchell Devil Dog, a low-flying bomber flown by the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific theater of World War II.
Just down the highway in San Marcos, visitors can see the plane that led the main aerial invasion of Normandy on D-Day, the C-47 That’s All Brother, as well as the B-25 Yellow Rose. The Central Texas Wing’s free museum also houses a vast exhibit of WWII memorabilia and equipment allowing visitors to get their hands on history.
Founded in Mercedes, south Texas remains an important destination for CAF and those who want to experience and honor our nation’s military aviation history.
Near Aransas Pass in Alice, the CAF’s Maxine Flournoy 3rd Coast Squadron is home to a restored 1940 Stearman training airplane and living history exhibits that retell the story of Coastal Bend’s military personnel.
Further down the coast at Port Isabel, the CAF’s Rio Grande Valley Wing invites visitors to experience our nation’s WWII history by flying in one of its vintage aircraft, or by exploring the museum’s numerous artifacts and vehicles used during the war effort.
If the CAF was born in South Texas, it grew up on the dusty plains of West Texas. In 1991, the organization moved its headquarters to Midland, where it remained until relocating to Dallas in 2014. The CAF continues to honor our nation’s military aviation history in West Texas through the work of several units.
In Midland, the High Sky Wing allows visitors to take to the skies on several World War II era aircraft, while the unit’s Midland Army Air Field Museum exhibits a vast collection of artifacts telling the history of the largest bombardier training school in the nation during WWII.
In Odessa, the CAF’s Desert Squadron at Schlemeyer Field is home to a PT-13 Stearman and PT-26 Fairchild, giving visitors a thrilling ride on two iconic training aircraft that WWII pilots flew before moving on to more advanced warbirds.
For more on the CAF aircraft and units, please go to www.commemorativeairforce.org and start planning your visits today.