BENEFITING: COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE
The Commemorative Air Force is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring, displaying, flying and preserving military aircraft that served the United States during World War II. The CAF has more than 165 aircraft, has members in all 50 states and 28 foreign countries. There are CAF “wings” in 28 states and four foreign countries.
The CAF relies on volunteers who have donated millions of hours to work on restoration projects. And those volunteers rely on contributions that pay for the materials and parts needed to restore and maintain these vintage aircraft that played such vital roles in the war effort.
The Lone Star Lady is a Beechcraft 18 that during World War II was designated as the C-45. The twin-engine aircraft became the military’s airborne “jeep” and served in a variety of capacities for all three branches. While other aircraft delivered bombs and bullets, the C-45 was just as valuable as a transport, utility and training aircraft.
This 1943 Beechcraft Aircraft Company Model 18 was delivered to the U.S. Navy as SNB-5 on Nov. 10, 1943 and was based at three Naval Air Stations - Corpus Christi, Pensacola and San Diego. This C-45 was assigned to two aircraft carriers when they were in port - the USS Essex and the USS Bataan. The Essex was the lead ship of the 24-ship Essex class. The USS Essex participated in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater, earning the Presidential Unit Citation and 13 battle stars. The Bataan was a light aircraft carrier in the Independence class. She joined the fight in the Pacific in mid-1944, participating in the invasion of the Mariana Islands plus the battles the Philippine Sea and Okinawa. This C-45 served as a “hack” aircraft for both ships. “Hack” is military jargon that describes an aircraft used for communication duties plus the transport of materials or as the commanding officer’s private plane.
In 1968, the aircraft was retired from military service and donated to Vincennes University for maintenance training purposes and it served in that role for 16 years. Starting in 1986 it was passed around by several leasing companies and in 2009 was purchased by a private owner in Taylor, Texas. The aircraft was operated from a grass airstrip and not housed in a hangar. When the Central Texas Wing of the CAF acquired this C-45 in 2015, it had fallen into disrepair through being exposed to the elements and had not flown in over a year.
The Central Texas Wing in San Marcos, Texas. has taken on the challenge of making this particular C-45 air worthy again. The first phase of the Lone Star Lady’s refurbishment involved an extensive inspection from nose to tail and wing tip to wing tip. That alone required thousands of hours of volunteer work.
Once it passes FAA inspections and is deemed fit to fly, the CAF Central Texas Wing will use the Lone Star Lady as a Living History Flight aircraft. Providing those flights will generate funds for other CAF projects.
It has been 71 years since the end of World War II. The history fades with the passage of each year. Restoring the Lone Star Lady to flight status will enable current and future generations to experience flying in a C-45 and better understand the behind-the-scenes role it played in the war effort. That exemplifies the CAF’s mission statement: “Education, such that generations of Americans will value and support the contributions of military aviation in assuring our nation’s freedom.”
Your donation will make you part of that history and part of keeping that history alive for future generations.