Category Archives: CAF

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!

Except…

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.

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Filed under ALSA Golden West, CAF, Paul

Wings Over Camarillo 2021 – Day Two

Today, before it got too busy and crazed for me, I went and visited the STEM Pavilion being hosted in one of our hangars.

There were a lot of neat things going on. Needless to say, I would have killed to have things like this to do when I was ten or fifteen years old!

DRONES?! They will let me play with drones? Well, actually no. They’re more than happy to let kids play with drones. Adults, who presumably have their own disposable income as well as the ability to manage their own lives, are not allowed. 😫 No matter how big the temper tantrum.

Again while it was calm, before the crowds got there (and we had a nice sized crowd again today) I got up close and personal with another favorite of mine, the P-38 Lightning.

Have I ever told the story of my flight training on the way to John Wayne / Santa Ana airport… No, I don’t think I did. I’ll put that one on the list.

The obligatory picture of two of the CAF SoCal aircraft, our Zero and our Hellcat.

And a quick, cellphone picture of yesterday’s favorite, the Corsair, in flight. Most of today I was shooting cell phone and video with the good video camera. Busy, busy day for the finance dude, a.k.a., me.

Speaking of video, here’s how the show ended for the weekend. We had a fair amount of “pyro” late in the show and I hadn’t seen any of it yesterday being busy, and almost missed everything today. But I made sure to get out for the big “wall of fire” finale just as the show closed.

Sweet! Nothing and nobody got bent or broken, the crowds were good, the beer, PX, and ride sales were excellent, and we look forward to seeing everyone next year. Or you can come out and see us at the museum on any open day (see our website to check the current schedule, we’re not open every day but are gradually ramping up as we recover from the COVID lockdowns) or book a ride for another time.

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Filed under Airshows, CAF, Photography, Video

Wings Over Camarillo 2021 – Day One

Wow, that was a long day…

I had figured the show could go either way in terms of crowd size, and relatedly, the financial success or failure for both the Camarillo Wings Association and all of the different sponsors, including the CAF SoCal Wing. First, we could have a huge crowd because all of the airshows for the last 18 months have been canceled along with a HUGE chunk of everything else, so folks will be desperate to attend a relatively safe, outdoor event with minimal close contact with strangers. OR, folks would still be really nervous about the resurgence of the COVID Delta variant and it would be something of a ghost town.

The air show fans of SoCal voted with their dollars – today at least had the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at a Camarillo air show.

In between my duties as the CAF SoCal Finance Officer (so I was hoppin’ all day!) I managed to capture a few pictures to share. (Huh! Go figure!)

Out in front before the gates opened there was a long line of fighters and warbirds. You’ve seen pictures of the CAF SoCal planes dozens of time on this page (search for the “CAF” category tag) so I was drooling over this gorgeous Corsair. A favorite plane (ever watch “Ba Ba Black Sheep”?) we don’t have one (yet) so I don’t get to see one up close or flying that often.

There were military aircraft on static display, but not nearly as many as most years. This AWACS, a couple of helicopters, and that was about it. In particular no huge cargo plane like a C-17, C-5, or even a C-130. They said something during the show about them being “in use overseas,” so I wonder if all of a sudden they’re all busy over in the Afghanistan evacuations.

Lots of old bi-planes and privately owned warbirds, particularly a lot of trainers like PT-19s, Stearmans, and T-34s. This 1929 Travel Air D-4-D was particularly gorgeous.

Usually the fast military fighters close the show, but today they started. It might have been to wake everyone up (like, everyone between Encino and Santa Barbara!!) or it might have been because of the cloud cover that hadn’t lifted quite yet. Either way, it definitely made an impression on the crowd, as well as every car with an alarm for blocks around.

You’ve seen this MIG before, it’s owned by our CAF SoCal Wing Leader, Jason Somes. But I’m not sure I’ve shown it to you in flight yet. Here you go!

Should you happen to be in SoCal and not have other plans for tomorrow, we’ll do it all over again. Gates open at 9:00. If you make it out, swing by the CAF ramp to see our planes, the STEM Pavilion in our hangars, the Beer & Margarita Garden in our other hangars, and maybe even ask someone where I am. Say howdy!

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Filed under Airshows, CAF, Photography, Video

Wings Over Camarillo 2021 – Arrival Day

This site has a metric ton of pictures from previous years’ Wings Over Camarillo airshows – just “Search.” Last year we didn’t have a show due to COVID-19. For the longest time I didn’t think we would have one this year, but sort of at the last minute (meaning four or five months ago, instead of the usual 9-12 months of planning and preparation) they decided to go for it and have it anyway. We’ll see how that works out…

The CAF SoCal Wing is one of the big sponsors and participants of the WOC show, so naturally we’re throwing everything we can at it. Again, given that we’re just coming out of 18 months of shutdown, including pickling all of our aircraft to preserve them while they’re not flying, and then working frantically for the past month or so to un-pickle them, this has been hectic. There are a few things that we normally do which we didn’t have the time or staff to do this year (lots of our docents and members are still staying away due to COVID and the Delta variant, which is 100% understandable) but hopefully it won’t be too many things that folks will be disappointed to do without.

The big question will be how many people will show up? We’ll know tomorrow.

Meanwhile, today I was out at the hangar getting all of the finance stuff prepped. It was also “arrival day,” when most of the planes from other airports fly in and get positioned.

I took a few quick photos. (Hey, the Chiefs were playing their Week Two pre-season game at 17:00 – priorities!)

Our ramp is littered with aircraft – a good thing! How many can you identify? (Click to see the full sized photo.)

These speakers are set up along the flight line about every 50 feet – I keep hearing the M*A*S*H announcer’s voice – “Attention. Attention. All personnel. Our movie tonight will be ‘My Darling, Clementine’ in the mess tent at Oh Nineteen Hundred hours…”

Jason’s MIG, one of our SNJ’s, and China Doll. Off in the distance, tents and booths as far as the eye can see…

And a video of a fast mover:

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Filed under Airshows, CAF, Panorama, Photography, Video

Creeping Back To Normal At CAF SoCal

It’s been a long sixteen months at the CAF SoCal hangar in Camarillo (remember, I’m still on Staff there for the 8th year as Finance Officer) but we’re slowly creeping back to normal.

Our planes were all mothballed and our museum closed. We got a lot of maintenance work done, on both the facilities and the aircraft, but it’s time to get back to our mission.

The museum is open three days a week instead of six, but we’re getting some decent visitor traffic on those three days as word spreads of our soft re-opening.

We’ve had our first aircraft rides and have more being booked for the near future.

The Camarillo Wings Association will be moving ahead with the Wings Over Camarillo airshow on August 21st and 22nd. We’ll be flying our PBJ bomber, F6F Hellcat, Spitfire, and Zero. Plus all of our other aircraft and museum and PX (and the beer garden) will be on static display down at our hangars at the west end of the ramp, along with the STEM pavilion being in our “new” hangars.

(Clickenate to embiggenate!)

From left to right: The aforementioned “new” hangars, PBJ (gray bomber), F6F Hellcat (dark blue fighter), someone’s Cessna (white plane behind the F6F), YAK-3 (gray/blue camouflage fighter), AN-2 (huge yellow biplane), C-46 (silver cargo plane), MIG-17 (red jet), SNJ (yellow trainer), jeep & trailer.

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Not An Aircraft You See Every Day

Out at the CAF hangar today we were taking delivery of an unusual aircraft.

It’s a Fieseler FI-156D Storch, a German designed WWII aircraft.

This one was partially disassembled for transport to us from San Bernardino County, with the fuselage on one truck, the wings on another, and the propeller, horizontal stabilizer and other parts coming in separately.

It’s a fixer-upper (as many CAF aircraft are) but that’s what we do, and this aircraft will probably be flying again in 2-5 years, depending on our volunteer manpower, workload, and of course, funding.

To be honest , this aircraft is in MUCH better shape than some we’ve gotten. Some are 15-20 year projects, if we’re lucky. Here we at least have an engine and all of the major parts.

A peak inside the floor of the cockpit, showing the foot controls for rudder and brakes.

And the big picture at the firewall, engine mounted to the left, controls and cockpit on the right.

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C-47 Dakota

Not something we see every day, at least, not with the engines running!

The American Aeronautical Foundation has a couple of planes out at Camarillo and rents space in our hangar and on our ramp. (Their B-25, “Executive Sweet,” is excellent!) This is their C-47 Dakota, which hasn’t flown in a while.

But they’ve been putting a ton of work into it recently and today was the first day that I’ve seen where the engines have been running and it was moving around the airport under her own power.

Here you see it alongside our C-46 Commando, “China Doll.” The C-47 didn’t fly today, at least not that I saw, just taxied around the airport and ran up the engines. But they’ve got to be getting close!

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CMA’s Neighbors To The South

The CAF Southern California Wing’s hangars are at Camarillo Airport (CMA) and we have a neighboring airport just a few miles to our south, the Naval Air Station Point Mugu. It’s a great place for an airshow every couple of years (if we can ever get this COVID-19 bullshit behind us) and they fly some out of there, but there’s not a ton of air traffic in and out of there. It’s not like living next to MCAS Miramar or NAS Oceana where you can see a pretty steady stream of fighters, cargo aircraft, and reconnaissance missions.

But as I was leaving yesterday, this big guy was lumbering in from the north, hanging there exactly the same way that bricks don’t.

He was a ways off, turning to final approach, but I’m pretty sure that’s a C-5 Galaxy. Usually the cargo planes going into Point Mugu are the smaller C-130 Hercules (back when I was flying I had a couple of them on long finals that I gave a wide berth, because the wake turbulence can be a bitch and a half if you’re in a tiny Cessna!) but today we had something large being moved.

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PT-19

If you’ve never taken a flight in an open cockpit plane, I highly recommend you try it!

This is our PT-19 trainer out at the CAF Southern California Wing in Camarillo.

Boarding is a little bit different than on Southwest or United – just climb up onto the wing, stay on the black strip, flip a leg over, and settle in.

In the back seat you’ll have that stick moving around and the rudder pedals moving back and forth as the pilot flies the plane. Try not to hit those unless you’re flying the plane. Those other knobs and levers are for fuel and throttle and flaps – don’t touch any of them, either. Just enjoy the view!

It’s not super fast – top speed is barely 100 mph. It’s still a joy to fly in.

If you want to fly and you’re in SoCal, get in touch with us once the COVID thing is over. (We’re all grounded right now.) We can make that happen!

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New Aircraft For SoCal Wing

Maybe “new” isn’t quite the right word given that this aircraft type was designed in 1947 and this particular aircraft is 35 years old.

It’s an Antonov AN-2, a tail-dragging, single-engine, biplane. We acquired it from another Wing, along with the Messerschmit 108 that arrived a few weeks ago.

I’ll bet you haven’t seen these in your neighborhood recently! Trust me, you would notice, it’s a big aircraft!

The AN-2 is still in service all over the world as a passenger and cargo plane, primarily in remote and undeveloped areas. It’s able to land and take off from undeveloped surfaces such as grass trips, open fields, sand bars, deserts, and so on.

The most amazing thing that I’ve seen is that it doesn’t have a stall speed. If the engine fails you need to keep it under control, but as you slow it will simply descend to the ground at about the same speed you would land under a parachute.

It’s big, lumbering, and slow, with at top speed of 160 mph and a cruise speed of 120 mph. (A Cessna 172 is faster.) But it will fly perfectly well down to about 30 mph and in fact can be flown backwards over the ground if it’s flown into a headwind faster than that.

As a passenger aircraft it typically carries 12 passengers. (AK-47’s are optional.) We won’t be taking passengers – as a foreign-manufactured aircraft the Big Panda II isn’t eligible for the CAF’s ride program.

The cockpit is a thing to behold. The GPS unit on top of the dashboard might not be 1947 original equipment for this type.

Designed in Russia, many of the instruments still have their Russian markings, and most are in metric units.

And the markings and specifications on the four big blades are in Russian. My Russian is just a bit rusty (i.e. I know about five words that I learned from James Bond movies and Tom Clancy books) so I can’t tell you what it says, but it’s an attention getter.

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