CAF Groundbreaking Ceremony for Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center

The CAF groundbreaking ceremony as the spades go in at Dallas Executive Airport on March 1st, 2019. WWII veteran, and longtime CAF member whose name the new facility will bear, is standing at the center. (photo via CAF)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

The Commemorative Air Force held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site for their National Education Center at Dallas Executive Airport in Dallas, Texas on March 1st, and made the following press release to announce the event.

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) held a ground-breaking ceremony to celebrate the start of construction and the naming of its $8 million, 47,000-square-foot National Aviation Education Center at Dallas Executive Airport. The educational center will include a STEM Innovation aircraft hangar, classrooms and exhibit space. This building is the first phase of the organization’s plans for an aviation campus, called the CAF National Airbase.

CAF President Hank Coates began the ceremony by remarking “Today, as we turn the ground and embark on this building, I am so proud of all the support the CAF has received from across the country. This building will be the flagship of our organization where our mission to educate, inspire and honor, will impact thousands of people who come through the doors.” The organization’s leadership announced the naming of the center, the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center, in honor of the philanthropist, World War II veteran and long-time CAF Member, Henry B. Tippie. “As a Life Member of the CAF, and a WWII veteran, I am excited to see the CAF use the legacy of the past to build bridges to a better future, I am also pleased to see the sacrifices of those who served during WWII be honored and preserved for future generations,” said Tippie at the ceremony.

CAF CEO (center right) assisting Henry B. Tippie following the groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility named in Tippie’s honor. (photo via CAF)

Funding for the project was helped significantly with a contribution of the Ray Foundation, an organization based in Florida established by the late James C. Ray, who also served in WWII and established the foundation to support educational programs, especially those promoting aviation. Chuck Ahearn, Director and President of the Ray Foundation remarked about the project “The Ray Foundation is thrilled to support the CAF National Aviation Education Center because it will transform the lives of young people by providing unique aviation education opportunities.”

The largest component of the building will be a 30,000 square foot STEM Innovation Hangar. This new hangar space will serve as a large area where youth will interact with the CAF’s rare World War II aircraft and learn principles of aviation. This hangar was named after the late Vic N. Agather, World War II veteran and one of the CAF’s early members who is responsible for helping the organization acquire the rare flying B-29 Superfortress, known as FIFI. Accepting the honor was local Fort Worth businessman Neils Agather, Vic’s son, who is also the Fundraising Campaign Chair for the Education Center. “My father would be pleased to see the CAF launching into a new era of educating, inspiring, and honoring through flight because he was passionate about preserving history and ensuring that Americans of all ages could experience first-hand the aircraft that had a major impact in the war against tyranny. His passion is shared by many throughout our organization and this Center will help that passion continue to thrive,” said Neils Agather.

The ceremony was well attended by hundreds of CAF members from across the country and included appearances by Dallas City Council Member and Mayor Pro-tem Casey Thomas, the City of Dallas Director of Aviation Mark Duebner, and Missouri Congressman and long-time CAF member Sam Graves.

Education is central to the CAF’s core mission of preserving and flying historical aircraft. By teaching World War II history through its collection of artifacts, showing students how aircraft fly, and creating STEM educational programming, the CAF will create an education center that provides a one-of-a-kind experience for all who walk through its doors. Construction of the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center is expected to begin this summer, with the goal of being operational in late 2020.


The James C. Ray Education Wing will provide 10,000 square feet of workshop and classroom space stocked with science and mechanical equipment, distance learning capabilities, and a flight simulator lab. Education Staff will develop and provide science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming that will be available in Dallas, as well as for deployment in communities across the country by the CAF’s 85 local units. The facility is named for James Ray, a decorated B-17 pilot and founder of the Ray Foundation. This foundation supports educational organizations, primarily in the field of aviation, that develop life skills such as work ethic, self-discipline and self-confidence in young adults. The Ray Foundation provided a $2 million grant that was instrumental in reaching the CAF’s $8 million project goal.

The 30,000-square-foot Victor N. Agather Hangar will provide space for display and maintenance of aircraft, as well as for educational activities and large events. The hangar is named for “Vic” Agather, who helped design and test the B-29 Superfortress during the war, and who was instrumental in helping the CAF acquire and restore its famous B-29 FIFI in 1971. Agather later convinced the U.S. Air Force to allow the B-29 to fly again and developed the concept of touring the CAF’s aircraft around the country. Vic’s oldest son Neils Agather is currently on the General Staff (CAF Board of Directors) and serves as Chair of the CAF Museum Board.

The Arsenal of Democracy Atrium will provide 7,000 square feet for display space for many of the unique artifacts that are part of the CAF museum collection, including the one-of-a-kind WWII Nose Art collection. This area will be available for rent for social gatherings and community events.

Funding for the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center has been provided through the support and efforts of many organizations and individuals and the Commemorative Air Force would like to thank all who have supported the organization. The organization would like to recognize the following:

The City of Dallas
Henry B. Tippie Foundation
Ray Foundation

Neils Agather
Hillcrest Foundation
Hoblitzelle Foundation
Ray and Bonnie Kinney
Ralph B. Rogers Foundation
Frederick and Barbara Clark Telling
The Meadows Foundation
Walton Family Foundation

B-29/B-24 Squadron
Katherine C. Carmody Charitable Trust
Red Tail Squadron
Doug Rozendaal
Southwest Airlines

For those interested in contributing to this important project, please click HERE.


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