Category Archives: CAF

An Era Ends

For the last eight years I’ve been the Finance Officer for the Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing, a volunteer position. As of January 1st, I’ve officially been out of that position, having not run for another two-year term. But I’ve still been very busy, finalizing the 2021 accounting books, finishing up paperwork, training my replacement, and so on. For the past three long and intense days I’ve been going through our internal audit with the finance folks from the national CAF HQ in Dallas.

Now, with that audit done, my time on Staff is done. While I’m sure there will be loose ends that pop up now and then, I’m not free to find other activities for my weekends and all of the hours that had been dedicated to that position.

I’ll still be a member of the CAF in general and the SoCal Wing in particular, but I’ll be a member and occasional volunteer, not holding down what was essentially a second job.

I can think of a few things that might fill those hours in the upcoming weeks and months. For starters, there’s a TBR pile of books that’s taller than I am, and just a few things on some of the streaming services where I’m a few years behind. And who knows what could happen if this COVID thing ever allows us to start travelling again. Friends to harass, people to visit, sights to see, cons to get to, ball games to cheer at.

Onward and upward!


Filed under CAF, Photography

F6F Hellcat

Back at the hangar for another long day.

I was looking for a quiet spot for a Zoom call at my real job. The museum’s closed for COVID still and was fairly quiet. At least, by airport standards.

Of course, just as I was getting ready to present in the meeting, the Ventura County Fire Department helicopter next door fired up and took off. Nothing like a jet turbine 100 yards away to make the “Mute” button your best friend!

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

An “Empty” Hangar

Well, “empty” in the sense that I was the only one in there as I was locking up at the end of the day.

Not empty in the sense that I was surrounded by incredible aircraft!

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Filed under CAF, Panorama, Photography

A Flock Of Condors

Out at the CAF SoCal hangar today. It was rainy and gray, but the cloud base lifted a little bit around noon, and we got visitors.

The Condor Squadron flys out of Van Nuys Airport and is a common site in SoCal airshows, event flyovers, and other aviation events.

They perform formation flying in their AT-6 “Texans” on their missions. The “Advanced Trainer” was used in the US, but the same design in England during WWII was known as the “Harvard.”

With those old round engines, the “Texan” has a very distinctive “blaaaaaaaaaaat” sound as the prop tips break the sound barrier.

That sound carries well and the Condors’ practice routines often carry them over our house, so you’ll often see me running around the house yelling, “TEXANS!” and grabbing a camera to run out and catch them flying by.

With the rain and fog it had been quiet, but the arrival of the four Condor aircraft at full throttle over the runway took care of that. It was great to see them!

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Missing Man Today

Today’s “missing man” flyover pass.

First pass is our CAF SoCal Wing PBJ (B-25), F6 Hellcat, and an F8 Bearcat. (The Bearcat isn’t ours, I believe it’s from the Palm Springs Air Museum, but I could very well be wrong. Ours is in mid overhaul.) It’s the F8 that pulls out of formation overhead.

Second pass are T-6 Texans / SNJs from the Condor Squadron out of Van Nuys.

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Video

Throttle Quadrant

They don’t make them like this any more.


That’s part of the problem.

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

It Would Be Nice To See Her Fly Again

It’s been a few years since she’s flown, although her engines get fired up every now and then to move fluids around. She’s got a bit of “ramp rash” and would need a thorough going over and a bit more than routine maintenance.

It wouldn’t be easy, or quick, or inexpensive. But there are other C-46 Commandos still flying cargo and it’s not at all ridiculous to think of China Doll flying again. But the time? The dedication? The manpower? The money? Those are all in short supply.

Still, one can dream. I’ve never gotten to fly in her and it would sure be nice.

Dreams are important. Gotta hold on to them…

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Big Old Planes

And puffy clouds!

Our AN-2 on the left, C-46 on the right.

It was still raining at home, 35 miles away, and the big storm is moving in tonight through late Monday.

Difference in pictures is the normal iPhone 13 lens on the top, the wide angle lens (and about ten steps forward) on the bottom.

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Filed under CAF, Photography, Weather


A busy, busy day at the hangar, but I wanted to at least snap a couple of pictures with the new phone.

Our F8F Bearcat is undergoing a major overhaul. The engine is off completely, along with a number of other chunks. Here’s the firewall, forward of the cockpit, to which the engine mount, engine, a half gazillion parts, the cowling, and pretty much the whole pointy end of the plane will be attached.

But that might be a few months away, maybe a year or more. We’ll see.

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Filed under CAF, Photography

Money, Money, Money, Money

Being Finance Officer of the CAF SoCal Wing I spent a good part of this weekend counting cash. This led to a most curious observation.

Here’s the situation. We have a number of sales sources around our ramp. Some of them (PX with T-shirts, toys, hats, patches, and so on – and the beer/margarita stands) generate a decent amount of sales but it’s mostly electronic, or $10s, $20s, $50s, and $100s if it’s cash. But most of the others (tips, candy, chips, snacks, sodas, water, and especially the aircraft tours) are simple and charge $1. Simple, just drop a dollar bill in the bin and off you go!


Someone has to count all of that. And to count it you have to unfold and stack and put it all in a format where you can go through it. It’s tedious, it’s time consuming, and it’s a pain in the ass when you can hear the planes flying and the “bombing” explosions and action going on outside.

But here’s the thing.

Having my desk covered with a mangled, messed up, mish-mash of $1 bills (with the occasional $5 or $10), almost everyone coming through the office wants to ooooh and aaaaah and just drool over “ALL THAT MONEY!!!” It’s like Scrooge McDuck frolicking in his hidden lair full of gold coins.

Only these aren’t gold coins. While everyone else is looking at it and obsessing over “CASH!!!” I’m seeing $100, maybe $125. Max.

And the majority of those with that attitude were pilots. Pilots who work for the airlines are are making $200K/year or more, sometimes a LOT more. This money lust that’s taken away their common sense is about what they would pay for dinner with their wives, OR LESS, yet they act like they could use it to go buy a new Ferrari.

It struck me as odd and a bit amusing, so I’m sharing. It’s what I do. Well, that and spend hours unfolding and stacking dollar bills until my hands cramp.

Meanwhile, if you’re tired of being obsessed with the mountainous stack of $1 bills, pull up a chair and start unfolding, stacking, and sorting. I give it fifteen minutes, tops, before you never want to see a $1 bill again.


Filed under ALSA Golden West, CAF, Paul