The Confederate Air Force, er...the Commemorative Air
Force (Arizona Wing) is located at Falcon Field at the corner of
Greenfield and McKellips in Mesa, AZ. The name was changed from
Confederate Air Force several years ago to aid in fund raising.
Some on the board of directors thought that in this age of political correctess
that anything with the word 'Confederate' in it was a bad thing.
So the name was changed to Commemorative Air Force. Turned out
that didn't do much for fund raising either. But rather than re-paint
the planes...again...the new name stuck. Personally I liked 'Confederate
Air Force Better'.
The Arizona Wing is smaller than the wing in Texas
but it's still a very active wing with a very nice museum. The
crown jewels of the museum are the B-17G 'Sentimental Journey' and
the B-25J 'Maid In The Shade'. Both have been completely
restored and are in flying condition. In fact these planes fly
quite regularly at air shows and other venues. Rides in the '17
run anywhere from $400-$800 depending on where you want to sit.
The day we visited there was a small army of volunteers working on
both of those planes as well as several others in the hangars.
Virtually everyone associated with the CAF is a volunteer, some year
round while others are there on a seasonal basis.
The '17 was open the day we visited and I was
able to squeeze my full figured frame through the hatch located to
the rear and below the cockpit. It was a lot smaller than you'd imagine.
On TV and in the movies it looks much larger but it's not. I
was told that the average crewman on a '17 was 5'6"-5'7".
I'm pushing 6'2". The standard crew on a '17 was
10...pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, radio operator, two
waist gunners, tail gunner, ball turret gunner and flight engineer.
Everyone in the crew except the pilot and co-pilot also manned a gun.
Later in the war when the P-51's were introduced the crew dropped to
9 eliminating one of the waist gunner positions. This enabled a
slightly increased bomb load. The P-51s were able to escort the bombers
all the way to and back from their targets.
There are a number of aircraft parked outside
and several more inside including a MiG 21, F4U 'Super' Corsair
(modified for air racing) and a pair of P51's that also have been
modified for air racing. My favorite was a 1947 Jeep.
is a small admission charge and in
addition to the museum there is a small gift shop. We hope you
enjoy the photos.