The origin of the Commemorative Air Force dates back to 1957, when Lloyd Nolen and four friends purchased a P-51 Mustang, each sharing in the $1,500 cost of the aircraft. With the purchase of the Mustang, known as Red Nose, the group was unofficially founded. In 1960, the CAF began seriously to search for other World War II aircraft. 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 scrapped as obsolete. No one, not even the Air Force or Navy, was attempting to preserve one of each type of these historic aircraft for display for future generations.
On September 6, 1961, the CAF was chartered as a nonprofit Texas corporation to restore and preserve World War II-era combat aircraft. By the end of the year, there were nine aircraft in the CAF fleet. By 1963, the group had achieved their goal of acquiring one of each American World War II fighter plane.Their first airshow was held on March 10, 1963.
Today, the Commemorative Air Force comprises over 12,000 members, including more than seventy regional groups, called wings or detachments, in twenty-seven states and four other countries. Several hundred members actively serve as pilots and flight and/or maintenance crew members committed to preserving American combat aviation heritage. The CAF is an all-volunteer organization, made up of members from all backgrounds. Membership is open to all men and women, age 18 or older. Those who are 12 years of age or older, may join as cadet members. You need not be a veteran nor a pilot to join the CAF. Privately funded and totally self-supporting, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt group is dedicated to preserving the military aviation heritage of World War II.