Commemorative Air Force Announces Finalists for Their New National Airbase At EAA AirVenture

CAF_LogoExp_01Following up on the “CAF National Airbase” plan announced earlier this year, at a press conference held this morning at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) announced that the organization had narrowed down the field of potential locations for the group’s flagship facility and national headquarters to eight finalists.

CAF President/CEO Stephan C. Brown announces the finalists for the location of the CAF's National Airbase.
CAF President/CEO Stephan C. Brown announces the finalists for the location of the CAF’s National Airbase.

The press conference which featured CAF President/CEO Stephan C. Brown addressing those assembled, talking about the search process, which began in May of this year. According to Brown there were more than 25 interested and viable locations, and after careful consideration of each potential location, the CAF Board of Directors has narrowed the list to (alphabetical by airport):

Alliance Airport, Ft. Worth, Texas
Collin County Airport, McKinney, Texas (Dallas Metropolitan)
Dallas Executive Airport, Dallas, Texas
Ellington Field Airport, Houston, Texas
Lackland/Kelly Airport, San Antonio, Texas
New Century Airport, Kansas City/Olathe, Kansas
North Texas Regional Airport, Sherman/Dennison, Texas (Dallas Metropolitan)
Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport, Smyrna, Tennessee (Nashville Metropolitan)

“Each of these eight locations has the potential to help propel the Commemorative Air Force to a higher plane of awareness and national impact,” said Brown. “Our mission is education – such that Americans will value and support the contributions of military aviation in assuring our nation’s freedom. In order to reach and impact the largest audience possible, the CAF is in need of a strong location that offers a significant permanent population as well as a thriving tourism opportunity.”

“We were excited to see strong interest from many communities across the country which our team carefully evaluated,” said Brown. “The CAF Board of Directors worked closely with international real estate and consulting firm, Jones Lang LaSalle to host a bidders’ conference in Dallas in early June where 23 locations were represented. Within the few short weeks following the conference, the Board of Directors received 18 inquiries from across the country. After carefully scrutinizing each location, the board narrowed potential sites to these eight strong prospects. Over the next few months, the CAF Board of Directors will conduct an extensive investigation, proposal and negotiation process to further narrow the potential sites and ultimately select a new location.”

At the CAF Annual General Membership Meeting in October 2013, the CAF membership will vote to give the CAF Board of Directors the authority to select the location of the National Airbase from the list of finalists. While the members will not directly vote to select the final location, CAF members will authorize their member-elected board of directors to make the best decision for the future of the CAF. The formal voting process will require three-fourths approval of the voting membership. At the conclusion of an externally-audited vote, the CAF Board of Directors will begin the next stage of the selection process.

Each of the eight locations will be thoroughly analyzed to ensure the final selection accommodates all of the criteria put forth by the Board of Directors. The home of the new CAF National Airbase and Headquarters operation will be located in a major metropolitan area with a minimum population of one million with ease of access to tourists and CAF membership through a nearby major international airport and an infrastructure of interstate highways. Other criteria included:

Approximately 150 to 200 acres adjacent to an airport capable of supporting CAF facilities, operations and a significant fly-in or Air Show
Strong local demographics and easy access to a large pool of potential visitors and members
A major reliever airport with limited scheduled carrier activity
Open airspace around and above the airport
Runway length of 7,000 by 150 feet or more
Visibility and ease of access
Room and ability to grow
Cooperative airport management and tower
Runways, taxiways and ramp areas capable of handling the aircraft of the CAF fleet

The CAF National Airbase facility will feature a year-round aviation attraction, house Headquarters staff and member-volunteers who will organize and execute an annual warbird Air Show and fly-in, and be a base of operations for some of the CAF’s most significant flying vintage military aircraft.

Brown said the CAF Board of Directors envisions this new National Airbase as the pinnacle of the organization’s 60 existing facilities currently spread over 28 states and maintained by the CAF’s 10,000 member-volunteers.

“The CAF National Airbase will house and serve as a stage to share a rotating group of the most significant military aviation assets in history,” Brown concluded. “For more than 55 years we have been restoring, maintaining and operating the world’s largest fleet of flying vintage military aircraft and we expect this Airbase to become a premier destination for the chosen host city.”



  1. I think they need a location in Ohio….With the Airforce museum sitting Dayton, a Mecca for aviation enthusiasts….Ohio is the PERFECT location for a CAF unit.

  2. Hey Ash,

    Speaking for myself only, I was taken by surprise by the “final 8” picks. My thoughts on the matter favored the Phoenix area or somewhere in Florida. Locations in Texas would have been very far down on my list, particularly since they already announced that Midland would be upgraded to an airbase under the new organizational structure.

    All of the “final 8” are fails IMO as far as reaching out to the general public and international tourists, which were stated as priorities in the original announcement.

    In the end, I suppose inducements from the local authorities must play a large part in the decision making process, I mean if the local government is willing to hand you land for free and/or other perks in exchange for locating there, that really tips the scales.

    Nashville I can kinda see, but Kansas City?!? Must have been one hell of a basket of goodies offered up to the CAF for them to make the cut. It doesn’t really have much in the way of resident population, has bad weather in the winter, tornados during the summer and no tourists to speak of.

    The October general membership meeting should be interesting…


    • Understanding the CAF’s desire to be near a major population center, I would solidly recommend either North Texas Regional (formerly Perrin AFB) or New Century Airport, Kansas City/Olathe, Kansas (formerly Naval Air Station Olathe/Olathe Air Force Station) due to their history of military use and sufficient separation from air traffic congestion around the other candidate sites such as DFW, Houston, and San Antonio.

      Additionally, it doesn’t make sense to return to the Gulf Coast (for the sake of argument, Gulf Coast includes all of Florida) due to the potential for additional/renewed damage to these historic aircraft from the salty, humid climate and tropical weather threats they escaped from when they moved from Harlingen.

      While Nashville does have a large tourist industry, the Kansas City area is close to the geographic center of the U.S. and North Texas is relatively close as well compared to the other locations.

      Just my two cents.


    • Nashville Tennessee – BNA and MQY – Nashville is within a 500 mile radius of over half the population of the United States. We have an excellent convergence of interstates that come right through the City; Interstate 40 (which runs from West Coast to East Coast – right through Nashville); Interstate 65, which runs North and South, and Interstate 24. Nashville BNA is an International Airport and Smyrna – MQY is only 10 Nautical miles as the crow flies, from Nashville’s BNA. Smyrna is also a former Airbase with lots of room to grow. Nashville used to host the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds until the Base closed, and now Smyrna hosts the area airshows. Middle Tennessee State University is just down the road, another 10 miles as the crow flies, and has one of the top aerospace collegiate programs in the country. A lot of opportunities for educational programs where students in the maintenance and ATC programs, flight programs – and Aerospace Tech and business management programs can expand into potential volunteer services. Bring it to Nashville! Easy in an out!!

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