Jetwash Images | Commemorative Air Force's AirPower History Tour - by Jonathan Derden

Commemorative Air Force's AirPower History Tour - by Jonathan Derden

June 03, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

“A generation which ignores history has no past and no future” – Robert Heinlein

This strong yet fitting quote accurately summarizes the mission of what is arguably one of the largest air forces in the world, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF). Since 1961 the non-profit organization has been in the business of restoring and maintaining WWII-era aircraft, and preserving the memory of these historical machines and those who worked on and flew them. To that effect, the CAF has nearly 160 aircraft and 9,000 members on the books. Their aircraft and crew can be seen regularly at numerous events and airshows across the country.

Given the current fiscal sequester, a great number of 2013's airshows around the country have been postponed our canceled outright. Unfortunately this has put quite a damper on the activities of the CAF, as they use airshows as a vital promotional tool and they are now largely unable to fulfill their mission of showcasing these historic aircraft to the public. However, some of the CAF’s aircraft have managed to make public appearances as part of a scheduled tour, and one such tour stop took place near the nation’s capitol the first weekend in June.

  “Fifi” is the only airworthy Boeing B-29 Superfortress in existence, and it dwarfed everything on the property when it arrived within a stone’s throw of Washington, DC as part of the CAF’s AirPower History tour. Normally based in Texas, Manassas Regional Airport (KHEF) was home to this unique WWII-era bomber from May 27-June 2 as the AirPower History tour made its way up the mid-Atlantic.

Fifi didn’t make the journey alone, however. Escorting her along this leg of the tour were other CAF aircraft including Brat III, a P-51D Mustang, an SB2C Helldiver (yet another solitary airworthy example), C-45, and a Vultee BT-13A that is assigned to the local CAF unit, the Culpeper-based National Capitol Squadron. While the B-29 was only scheduled to fly twice daily, the other aircraft were available for on demand rides throughout the day. Fortunately for the CAF, there were quite a few takers so the skies over Northern Virginia came alive with the sound of round engines for the majority of the afternoon.

The AirPower History tour will make stops in several more states along the east coast and Midwest, before ending the tour for regularly scheduled maintenance during the winter. To see if they’ll be coming to an area near you, visit www.airpowersquadron.org

For more information on the Commemorative Air Force, or even on how to become a member and help preserve history, see http://commemorativeairforce.org

C-45 Expeditor "Bucket of Bolts"

National Capitol Squadron's Vultee BT-13A

"Fifi" taxies back to the ramp after a local flight

The only airworthy Helldiver in the world

 


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