Chariots Abound – Get in!
The Commemorative Air Force just hosted its annual airshow from 29-31 Oct, 2021 at Dallas Executive airfield, Dallas Texas. Know upfront that you can fly in a P-51 for 20min for $1695 – pass that spoiler package while shopping for a car and go fly! Ride the B-24 Liberator “Diamond Lil” for $424! There are more fantastic rides here than all the witches in Salem. The CAF show had perfect weather, easy to get to, a comfortable crowd size and showground layout and no problems with parking or traffic. This is the place to go for three days of warbird mania. The typical flying schedule for the weekend was:
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Flying Demonstrations
• America Trains for War
• TORA TORA TORA
• Flying Tigers
• Trojan Phlyers
• Cobras Salute to Bell Aircraft
• Fighters & Bombers Launch
• Bombers on Parade
• Superfortress Ends the War
• Missing Man Formation
It is special to note that there was flying going on throughout the morning for paid flights in various aircraft, ranging from sponsors supporting the mighty B-29 Strofortress to the classic Stearman! There were approximately 30 vintage aircraft available for hired seats – put his goldmine on your bucket list!
From 1000-1:30pm, there was Veterans Voices, where guest WWII veterans were interviewed and broadcasted to the public with stories related to training, platform performance and wartime execution. They included: Buck Sloan, Don Graves, David Hamilton, Dan Ragan, Joe McPhail, Paul Hilliard and John Luckadoo. Guests were also showcased WWII ground vehicles and weaponry (American Armor Showcase) and given a precious performance by the Ladies for Liberty Singers. They sang classic songs of the era as well as the National Anthem. All the while, there was the Aviation Discovery Zone (education area, especially for kids) sponsored by the NAEC inside a hangar to advance aviation schooling.
The foundation of this airshow was the Commemorative Air Force. The CAF was founded to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.
Their mission is to educate, inspire and honor through flight and living history experiences. The spreading of wings started with some cropdusters – Mr. Lloyd Nolen and a small group of ex-service pilots from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas pooled their money to purchase a P-51 Mustang in 1957. They formed a loosely defined organization to share the pleasure and expense of maintaining the Mustang.
A short while later, the group added a pair of F8F Bearcats to the P-51 Mustang. At this point, the CAF focus became clear: save an example of every aircraft that flew during World War II ~ a mission no one else was undertaking. What started as a hobby became an urgent objective to preserve history.
By 1960, the group began to search seriously for other World War II aircraft but it quickly became apparent that few remained in flying condition. By the end of the war, America had produced nearly 300,000 aircraft. Just 15 years later, almost all the warbirds were gone.
Decommissioned and stripped of armament and instruments, most of these proud warriors were scrapped or abandoned. No one, not even the Air Force or Navy, was attempting to preserve the historic aircraft that changed the world forever.
On September 6, 1961, the CAF was chartered as a nonprofit Texas corporation in order to restore and preserve World War II-era combat aircraft. By the end of the year, there were nine aircraft in the CAF fleet.
In 1965, the first museum building consisting of 26,000 square feet was completed at old Rebel Field, Mercedes, Texas. The CAF created a new Rebel Field at Harlingen, Texas, when they moved there in 1968, occupying three large buildings. The CAF fleet continued to grow and included medium and heavy bombers such as the B-29, B-25, B-17 and B-24. In 1991, they moved to Midland, TX until 2015 when they moved to Dallas Executive. Their main museum still remains in Midland.
The organization was originally known as the Confederate Air Force. Following a membership vote in 2001 and made effective on January 1, 2002, the organization is now called the Commemorative Air Force. The name was changed to better reflect the mission of the organization.
Collecting aircraft for nearly a half a century, the CAF now ranks as one of the largest air forces in the world. Today the CAF has approximately 13,000 members and a fleet of more than 175 aircraft representing more than 60 different types—including planes from several foreign countries and other military conflicts since World War II.
The Headquarters of the CAF is located in Dallas. CAF members live in every state and 28 foreign countries. In 26 states and four foreign countries, our members have joined together and formed units to foster camaraderie and, in many cases, actively support one or more of the classic military aircraft operated by the CAF.
The CAF was founded to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.
More than just a collection of airworthy warplanes from the past, the CAF’s fleet of historic aircraft, known as the CAF Ghost Squadron, recreate, remind and reinforce the lessons learned from the defining moments in American military aviation history. One of the main acts of the flying was Tora Tora Tora.”Tora Tora Tora” began in 1972, when six replica Japanese aircraft used in the movie of the same name were donated to the CAF. The Gulf Coast Wing requested assignment of the aircraft and began developing an act for presentation at air shows. The act debuted at the Galveston Air Show on June 25, 1972. By 1977, Tora had gained national exposure. By 1978, Tora began to make international appearances in Canada and Mexico. In 1991, Tora participated extensively in the 50th anniversary year commemorations of Pearl Harbor and in 1992, Tora tackled the challenge of sending two replica Zeros to Alaska to participate in the 50th anniversary commemoration of the raid on Dutch Harbor. Throughout the 90s, Tora has been in demand at air shows throughout the country and in 2000, Tora aircraft and pilots participated in the filming of the Disney movie “Pearl Harbor”. As of the 2018 air show season, the men and women of Tora have been performing as a professional air show act for over 45 years.
The motto of the Commemorative Air Force and the Tora act is “Lest We Forget.” “Tora, Tora, Tora”, as other Commemorative Air Force flying history recreations, is not intended to promote nationalism or glorify war. The intent of the Tora group is to help generations of individuals throughout the world born after World War II understand that war does not discriminate in the pain it causes and that courageous individuals on both sides lose their lives. In furtherance of this mission, the Tora group has participated in the making of numerous documentaries produced by Japanese filmmakers and Japanese historians.
During the average year, Tora participates in 12 to 16 air shows with 8 to 10 Tora aircraft participating in each show. In addition, each performance includes approximately 68 pyrotechnic effects. The average Tora show requires the coordinated effort of a minimum of 20 to 26 individuals both in the air and on the ground. As one air show industry publication noted, “Flying and working with a keen sense of spirit and camaraderie, the men and women of Tora set themselves apart from other air show acts by exhibiting a professionalism that over the years has earned them the distinction as one of the best acts in the industry.” This excellence was recognized formally in December 2001 when Tora was presented with the Art Scholl Award for Showmanship. This award is one of the two highest distinctions awarded by ICAS, the premiere air show industry trade association. This level of achievement is truly extraordinary when one considers that Tora is comprised entirely of volunteers.
Tora flies the following aircraft (descriptive pics by CAF):
Mitsubishi A6M “Zero”
The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” is a long-range fighter aircraft manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Company. The A6M was designated as the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 carrier fighter. It was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in World War II.
Nakajima B5N “Kate”
The Nakajima B5N “Kate” is the standard carrier-based torpedo bomber for the Imperial Japanese Navy for much of World War II. Primarily a carrier-based aircraft, it was also occasionally used as a land-based bomber.
Aichi D3A “Val”
The Aichi D3A Type 99 Carrier Bomber “Val” is the primary carrier-borne dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was involved in almost all IJN actions during World War II.
Curtiss P-36 “Hawk”
The Curtiss P-36 “Hawk” also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75 is an American-designed and built fighter aircraft. It is a contemporary mix of both the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt BF109. The “Hawk” is one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft, a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction. Best known as the predecessor of the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Five P-36’s were able to take off during the attack on Pearl Harbor and were credited with shooting down two A6M2 Zeros.
Curtiss P-40 “Warhawk”
The Curtiss P-40 “Warhawk” is an American single-engined, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft. The P-40 design was a modification of the Curtiss P-36 “Hawk”. It was the third most-produced American fighter of World War II.
Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress”
The Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” is a four-engined heavy bomber. It was the third-most produced bomber of all time behind the B-24 and the Ju-88. It was primarily employed by the USAAC in the daylight strategic bombing campaign of World War II against German Industrial and military targets.
Tora Tora Tora is a living history lesson. They travel the United States teaching the lesson of how the course of U.S. history was changed on December 7th, 1941.
Wings Over Dallas aircraft involved over the weekend:
S-105 (single prop, white, #13)
C-47 “That’s All, Brother”
C-47 “READY 4 DUTY”
C-45 “Yellow Belly” (camo)
UC-78 Bobcat – (green rimmed twin prop)
BT-15 Valiant – (longnose blue yellow)
BT-13 Valiant – (longnose blue yellow -blue canopy frame)
BT-34 Mentor (HV tail)
N3N Canary – (Bi, tandom, sing prop yellow)
L-26B Aero Commander Ike’s Bird (twin)
PT-19 Cornell (Yellow blue sign prop)
PT-13 Stearman – (blue yellow)
SNJ-5 Texan “Sassy”
SSNJ-5 High SKY Wing
AT-6 Texan “Nella”
AT-6 “ACE IN THE HOLE” plus BLUE camo one
T-28B (2-ship) Trojan Phlyers Flight Demonstration Team
P-51C “Tuskegee Airmen” red tail
P-51D “Charlotte’s Chariot”
B-29 Superfortress “FIFI”
B-25 “Devil Dog”
B-24 “Diamond Lil”
B-17 “Texas Raiders”
A-26 Shamrock 22
Look for this outstanding airshow every October at Dallas Executive Airfield.
Special thanks to CAF/PA Leah Block and Mr. David Linebarger and crew of The Blastards.