In the last issue of The Dispatcher, the magazine of the Commemorative Air Force, Alan Brooks who is the Chairman of the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum board shared the latest status of the CAF fleet; as well, as an interesting overview of the organization’s Standard Operating Procedures Aircraft Acquisition and Assignment Process. We thought our readers would enjoy learning about this important aspect of the world’s largest flying museum.
All aircraft in the CAF’s fleet, aka the Ghost Squadron, are owned and operated by the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (AAHFM), often called the “Flying Museum.” The AAHFM is responsible for acquiring aircraft, monitoring aircraft statuses, assigning aircraft to units, and deciding to sell aircraft, if necessary.
THE ACQUISITION PROCESS
When the CAF buys an airplane, it is often the result of a concerted effort by a dedicated Airbase or Unit. To purchase and operate this new aircraft, the Airbase or Unit must 1) Provide and submit a business plan for the aircraft both financially and operationally, 2) Submit a request for assignment for the acquisition, and 3) Raise the funds to pay for the new aircraft. The AAHFM reviews the proposal and, if acceptable, approves the purchase. In this case, the assignment process occurs simultaneously, with the AAHFM approving the assignment.
Airbases/Units may not purchase aircraft without Headquarters approval. Headquarters executes the purchase after an acceptable pre-purchase inspection and assigns the airplane to the Unit if approval is granted. The Unit coordinates with the Chief Aviation Officer to schedule the pre-purchase inspection. Many aircraft also join the CAF fleet because they are donated by generous supporters.
THE ASSIGNMENT PROCESS
The assignment process varies according to how the airplane becomes available. Typically, this occurs in one of three ways: 1) Reassignment of an aircraft that is already in the fleet, 2) Assignment of an aircraft to a unit in which that unit purchases said aircraft, or 3) Donation by an individual or organization of an aircraft to the CAF.
REASSIGNMENT OF EXISTING INVENTORY
On the CAF operations website, www.cafoperations.org, under the resource center link, you can see a list of aircraft currently up for an assignment. Any Unit can submit a request for the assignment of an available airplane. The AAHFM considers and reviews all Unit requests.
While the AAHFM strives to respect the donor’s wishes, aircraft assignments for aircraft donated by supporters follow the same process outlined above. All donations are unconditional and cannot require a mandatory assignment. If an aircraft is donated without any specific donor wish, the aircraft is added to the list of aircraft up for assignment on the CAF operations website at www.cafoperations.org/
In the same article, Brooks provided an overview of the current status of the CAF fleet.
• L-17-Houston Wing • J-4A – 3rd Coast Sqdn • L-17- Minnesota Wing • F8F Bearcat – SoCal Wing •AT- 11 – Lobo Wing • P-47N- Airbase Georgia •C-60-Houston Wing • PT-17- Minnesota Wing
|• L-5-CAF HO • AT-19-CAF HQ • F-156- SoCal Wing • PBY – Lake Superior Sqdn • SNJ-5- Big Sky Wing • BT-13 (Val) – Tex Hill Wing • PT-17- Airbase Georgia • L-5 – Toledo Wing
|• PT-17- DFW Wing • Fw 44-CAF HQ • PT-26–- Airbase Georgia • PT-23- Jayhawk Wing • PT-19- Highland Lakes • PT-17-Utah Wing Sqdn • J-3- NAEC • PT-17- CAF HQ
|• L-3E, N36687 • L-5 Sentinel, N59AF • Fw 44 Stieglitz, N2497
•Fairchild PT-26, N9474H
•Fairchild PT-19, N519SH
|• AT-19 Reliant, N67227 • R-4B Hoverfly
|• C-46 Commando, N53594
|•Ju-87 Stuka (replica), N87LL