The origin of the Confederate Air Force dates back to 1951, with the purchase of a surplus Curtiss P-40 War hawk by Lloyd Nolen, a former WW II Army Air Corps Flight instructor. In 1957, Nolen and four friends purchased a P-51 Mustang, each sharing in the $2,500.00 cost of the aircraft. With the purchase of the Mustang, known as "Red Nose", the group now known as the "Confederate Air Force" was officially founded.
Legend has it that upon arriving at "Mercedes Airfield" deep in the heart of South Texas one Sunday morning in 1957, the group found that someone had painted a sign on the fuselage of the P-51 as a joke. the sign read "Confederate Air Force". All the Pilots seemed pleased with the new name, saluted each other and decided it should stay.
In 1958, the group made their second purchase-two Grumman F8F Bear cats for $805.00 each. Along with the P-51, this gave the Pilots the two most advanced piston-engine fighters to see service with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy in World War II.
In 1960, the CAF began seriously to search for other World War II aircraft, but it quickly became apparent that very few were still left in flying condition. The CAF Colonels were shocked to find that the aircraft which played such a major role in winning World War II were being rapidly and systematically destroyed. No one, not even the Air force or Navy were attempting to preserve even one of each type of these historic aircraft for display for future generations to see!
On September 6, 1961, the Confederate air Force was chartered as a non-profit 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 the 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 was rapidly growing and now included medium and heavy bombers such as the B-25, B-26, B-17 and B-24.
Today the Confederate Airfoce is comprised of over 7,000 members, several hundred of whom serve as pilots and flight or maintenance crew members committed to preserving World War II American aviation heritage. The year 1991 marked the beginning of a new era for the CAF with the opening of the new Midland headquarters and museum, with better facilities to preserve the CAF fleet, which now numbers 137 aircraft, for generations to come.
The CAF is an all-volunteer organization, made up of members from all walks of life. Membership is open to all men and women, age 18 or older. You need not be a veteran nor a pilot to join the CAF. Privately funded and totally self-supporting, the non-profit, tax exempt group is dedicated to preserving the military aviation heritage of World War II. Published and written by -Confederate Air Force History 3/97
Last week I had the honor of being invited to a meeting of The San Diego Wing of The Confederate Air Force meeting. Initially I contacted CAF and told them of my intention to start a web site to honor "The Heroic Airmen of WW II", I spoke to Ms. Marti Ayn Davis (Promotions Consultant for CAF San Diego Air Group One) who was kind enough
to invite me to the CAF meeting. At the meeting I was at once impressed with the professionalism of the group and at the same time the friendliness and comrades of the members. I felt very comfortable and well received by the group. I shared my intentions of starting the web site with them and asked for any WW II plane photo's or stories they might have.
Most of the members I met were Vets. These guy's (and a few ladies) were so well versed on the Aircraft! I was amazed at their knowledge. I had the pleasure of meeting the following members:
Bob Neumayer-Wing Leader Marti Ayn Davis-CAF Promotions Consultant Merill Malaisson-Out Going Maintained Cheif Tony Wiser-In Coming Maintainence Officer Kent Casidy-Operations Officer Betsy Gary-Member