Recently I went on a guided tour conducted by a member of the Commemorative Air Force of Southern California, at the WWII Aviation Museum in Camarillo. The CAF, as they’re known, are volunteers who restore, preserve, and exhibit historical WWII warbirds. I have a friend who is a WWII history buff and when he told me about the museum he definitely caught my attention. I’d never heard of it, or them, before.
A while ago I wrote a blog on the Santa Monica Museum of Flying, and how important the city was for the war effort. Naturally when WWII broke out it became a major production center for all types of military aircraft. The Commemorative Air Force on the other hand scours the world looking for lost and damaged historical aircraft that can be restored and exhibited for posterity and maintain the legacy of the aircraft’s roll in the conflict.
On the tour I learned Commemorative Air Force have about eighty “units” nationwide, and the Southern California “unit” has been around since 1981. They created a place for themselves at the Camarillo Airport and started with one C-46 Commando transport (renown as the fleet that flew over the “Hump”- the Himalayas- the mountainous barrier between India and China during the war).
Over the years the local CAF has grown considerably and now has over twelve WWII aircraft. As we made our way pass aircraft our guide discussed the unique role each had in the conflict. Being a pilot himself, he gave a very knowledgeable talk of the avionic design and engineering that enabled each aircraft to prevail against the enemy.
I’m sure our guide went into extraordinary details for just our tour. After all everyone in our group was a Baby Boomer and those designers, engineers, pilots and crews he talked about represented our parent’s generation. When the war interrupted their lives they dropped what they were doing went out and saved country then returned to their lives with very little fanfare.
To whet your curiosity, here are a several of the famous planes you’ll encounter: The North American B-25 PBJ-1J( the famed B-25 used in the Doolittle Raid, April 18, 1942); the notorious Spitfire Mk XIV; and the P51 Mustang. The address to the Commemorative Air Force, WWII Aviation Museum is 455 Aviation Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010 (1-805-482-0064). To get information about hours, tours, airplane rides, and special events on their calendar go to www.cafsocal.com. So all you aircraft and history buffs, go ahead and get in touch with CAF. Here’s a chance to see the real aircraft that played such an important role in our country’s history- a chance not only to get up close but to hear very interesting stories as well.
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Here are posts of other Uniquely Los Angeles destinations you will enjoy reading. If you’re looking for a pleasant outing plan a visit and enjoy yourself.
-Friends, Romans, and …Angelenos
-Bradbury Building-A Lasting Gem in Los Angeles
-The Last Book Store
-The Magic Castle
-Grauman’s Chinese Theater
-Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits
-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
-Rose Bowl Stadium