The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is promoting its “12 Planes of Christmas” online giving campaign again this year. Running throughout the month of December, campaign donations will aid in the restoration and maintenance of the aircraft, as well as provide an opportunity to learn more about the CAF’s fleet of 165 authentic military airplanes. All CAF aircraft are restored, maintained, flown and exhibited by a volunteer force, which operates out of 60 different CAF locations across the United States. The organization depends on donations to keep the planes flying.
The online giving campaign also accepts donations to the CAF’s Restoration Grant Fund, which has helped more than 20 aircraft return to flight. This matching-grant program ensures that money goes to support aircraft projects with the greatest need. Flying aircraft are essential to the mission of the CAF, which looks to engage people in the history of these aircraft, which played a central role in America’s victory in World War II.
This year, the CAF campaign features 12 planes in various stages of restoration, with some needing support to become airworthy again: P-47 Thunderbolt, AT-11 Kansan, PT-17 Stearman, Interstate Cadet, B-25 Mitchell (PBJ), PBY Catalina, L-3 Grasshopper, Twin Beech (SNB), B-17 Flying Fortress, J2K (UC-61), BT-13 Valiant and FG-1D Corsair.
Each warbird has a unique historical significance and a compelling story, too.
Based in Princeton, New Jersey, the CAF Delaware Valley Wing is restoring the Interstate Cadet to tell the story of Cornelia Fort, one of the first female pilots to fly U.S. military airplanes and who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack from a Cadet like this one.
The B-25 Mitchell—the last of the PBJs, the Marine Corps version of the ubiquitous B-25—is a one-of-a-kind airplane that recently returned to the air after a 23-year restoration and needs help to get over the finish line. The plane is hangared in Camarillo, California.
The L-3 Grasshopper, based in San Diego, is part of the CAF’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educational program and provides a hands-on opportunity to see aviation technology up close.
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Coast Guard, and the J2K (UC-61), based in Franklin, Virginia, is the CAF’s only Coast Guard-marked aircraft.
To learn more about the campaign and the other WWII aircraft, go to supportcaf.org.