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Raymond M.

October 4,2014
Mayor Rawlings,
As time grows near for the Dallas City Council to consider the incentive package for the Commemorative Air Force,
I would like to share with you my impression of the process that has gone forward as it appears from the end osed
copy of the May 2014 edition of the Commemorative Air Force magazine known as Dispatch.
In reading through it, I find it abundantly clear how, from the beginning, Oak Cliff residents living near and around
Dallas Executive Airport have been continually excluded from the conversation regarding the future of this airport.
In articles by Steve Brown and Neils Agather, the CAF membership are told that this is a "done deal" and Dallas
City Council approval is a mere formality.
Quotes to this effect are as follows:
The welcome and pursuit of CAF by the City of Dallas, led by Mayor Mike Rawlings and Mayor
Pro Tern Tennell Atkins, was nothing short of overwhelming.
Generous financial commitments from the Economic Development and Aviation departments.
We have agreed to terms with the Mayor and City departments, but the City Council is the final
approving authority.
Rawlings is a busy man, yet he attended every meeting. He shepherded us through the process
and is thrilled his City is our choice.
We have not seen this big of a negotiation package without resident or City Council participation, since former City
Manager Mary Suhm along with Tom Perkins negotiated a separate back room drilling deal with Trinity East Energy.
After the CAF press conference in April, a resident asked why she and others were not informed of any contract
negotiations. Your response that "meetings were held, they were just confidential" is an unacceptable one by
any mayor to any constituent. To compound the problem, District 3 residents have heard nothing from their
Councilperson concerning anything to do with the airport. No emails or newsletters have been sent, no meetings
called, and no meetings at DEA about DEA have been attended by her.
That Mr. Atkins has, from the beginning, inserted himself into the process without the participation of the District 3
Councilperson is troubling at best.
The author Maya Angelou once stated, "people show you who they are." If you did indeed "attend every meeting"
with the CAF, as the article states, but could not allow time to reach out to Oak Cliff residents about your CAF
negotiations, then what are you showing us? From where I am sitting, it is showing your disregard for us and your
disconnect from us.
Very disappointed
Raymond Crawford
District 3
are moving to an area that is a major focus of investment
and revitalization, and the CAF will be a leading factor
in the mayor's GrowSouth initiative. The city leaders
are providing us with top-notch existing facilities and
generous financial commitments from the city's Economic
Development and Aviation departments. On top of that
was the mayor's personal commitment to assist us in
pulling together influential members of the community
to join the fundraising drive necessary to complete our
shared vision of CAF as a major tourist and educational
asset to Dallas.
Th e n ew s i s f i n al l y o u t : Th e n ew GA f Nat i o n al A i r b as e w i l l b e es t ab l i s h ed at
Dal l as Ex ec u t i v e A i r p o r t . Th e Gen er al St af f m ad e t h e d ec i s i o n af t er a t h o r o u g h
y ear l o n g p r o c es s o f i n v es t i g at i o n , d i s c o v er y an d ev al u at i o n .
The goal was to find a location in a major metropolitan
area that could support a world-class facility and
draw a large number of visitors annually. Visitors and
visibility have been a key component of this move from
the beginning. We also needed an airport location and
facilities that could support the CAF's mission as a flying
organization, including airshows. And we wanted to be at
a place where we were truly welcome, and that includes
financial and political support from the community.
Dallas Executive provides excellence in all of these
factors. It is located at the heart of the country's fourth-
largest metro area, with a population of almost 7 million,
as well as world-class tourism infrastructure that includes
a major international airport and convention center. More
than 120,000 cars per day travel by Dallas Executive daily
on the six-lane U.S. 67, and the location for our facility
is prominently visible from both directions-passers-by
can't help but notice us. This is the kind of advertising
that we could never afford to buy, and we are also in
close proximity to four interstate highways.
Although just minutes from downtown Dallas, the airport
has several hundred acres of open space, long and wide
runways, ramps and airspace capable of safely handling
CAF aircraft operations and a significant airshow.
Finally, the welcome and pursuit of CAF by the City of
Dallas, led by Mayor Mike Rawlings and Mayor Pro Tem
Tennell Atkins, was nothing short of overwhelming. We
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Ho w t h e Dec i s i o n Was Mad e
Wekicked off the public phase ofthe search bymeeting with
23 cities that met the basic qualifications. Our consultant,
J ones Lange LaSalle, solicited and received packets from
each location, and delved into the metrics: population,
propensity of residents to visit museums, financial giving,
political support and economic incentive possibilities.
The field was then narrowed down to six finalists, all
located inTexas. In our due diligence, it became apparent
that the majority of the membership would not support
a move outside Texas. Headquarters Staff and General
Staff members met with representatives from all of the
final six locations at least once, and three areas rose to
the top: Ellington Field in Houston, North Texas Regional
Airport in Sherman-Denison, and Dallas Executive. We
then scrutinized these three locations.
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business, starting with oversight of the National Museum of Flight in
Scotland, where he created that country's leading warbird airshow. He
has lived in the U.S. since 2001, when he came to run the Experimental
Aircraft Association's (EM) Museum in Oshkosh, Wisc. He was quickly
elevated to the point of oversight of EM Air Operations, youth programs,
membership, magazines, chapters and, ultimately, AirVenture. Adam
moved to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) for a couple
of years, and, fortunately, I was able to get him to come on board with
us when I showed him the opportunity that CAF has with the National
Airbase. Injust a short time, Adam has been a valuable resource who has
made great contributions.
Other members of staff will assist Adam, including Keegan Chetwynd and
the ever-indispensable Leah Block. Volunteers such as Gerald Oliver have
lent their professional skills throughout this process and will continue to
do so. But Adam will require other assistance, and he will build a team of
paid and volunteer members to focus on this project.
Of course, I will continue to oversee and be of assistance to Adam,
especially as we set out to raise funds. As the chief salesman for the CAF,
I will be one of Adam's tools in presenting the vision to potential donors.
We have many local resources in Dallas: David Pasahow, chairman of the
Foundation and Dallas resident, and Neils Agather, who has pledged to
stay on and help lead the fundraising effort when he rolls off the General
Staff in 2015.
Vi s i o n o f t h e A t t r ac t i o n
Now that the final site selection has been made, we will commence the
process of designing and fund raising for a world-class attraction and
aviation education center based around the CAF mission, aircraft and
i E
Our initial scoping exercise has identified potential for a $40 million
facility that will attract in excess of 200,000 visitors per year. This vision
will be refined as we work through the process of design, consultation
and business planning, and is of course dependent on our success with
First and foremost, CAF is aflying organization, and our preliminary vision
for the attraction includes a strong focus on the inspirational aircraft
that lie at the heart of the CAF mission. We see the National Airbase as
being a center of excellence for warbird operations, flight training and
restorations. The B-29/B-24 Squadron aircraft will definitely be part of
it, and we are in discussions with the DFWWing, Invader Squadron and
others who have expressed interest.
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CAF President Stephan Brown, left, with Dallas Mayor Mike RaWlings.
But as important and inspirational as the airplanes are, our mission is
really about the message they carry and the stories they can tell. The
recent work of the RedTail Squadron is a great example of the philosophy
we want to carry through the whole national Airbase attraction: Keep the
airplane flying, but combine it with a strong historical narrative, add a
powerful audio-visual experience, and work hard on educational outreach
to schools. Expect the National Airbase attraction to follow a similar path.
We'll be looking to use the best of modern display techniques, including
interactive displays, 4D movie experiences and hyper-realistic flight
simulators. And we'll be working hard to make it appealing not just to
aviation enthusiasts, but to the broader population.
Finally, Dallas Executive is an exciting and unique location for major
events and airshows, and these will be an important part of the year-
round program. The large open site provides ample space to hold a
significant crowd, with excellent sightlines. There is space for parking and
a full complement of ground activities, including static displays, vintage
military vehicles and a large re-enactor encampment. The airspace does
not allow for modern military jets, so our shows will be warbird-centric
with other aerobatic displays and other airshow acts.
Fu n d r ai s i n g
The fundraising goal is not insignificant, and we will need to work very
hard to get there. We have some factors in our favor to give us some
The mayor of Dallas has personally pledged his support and
endorsement of this project and is helping to put us in touch with
the right individuals to assist us fundraise.
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As the process neared the final decision stage, two areas set themselves
apart: North Texas Regional Airport and Dallas Executive. We visited and
met with representatives of these two locations TUltiPle times. After all
had gained comfort and understanding of the two sites, we solicited and
negotiated final and firm offers from each. !
At that point, the General Staff met, along with 10 invited CAF unit leaders
and senior members of the Headquarters Staff, ~or a final review of all
the factors. After several hours of review, CAF Chief of Staff Neils Agather.
went around the room and asked each person in attendance to give his or
her opinion of which location we should select. EVprysingle person in the
room chose Dallas Executive, including several P1eoplewho had walked
into the meeting with a different opinion. The Gene1ralStaff voted to select
Dallas Executive, subject to my negotiations with the City of Dallas on a
couple of outstanding issues or incorrectly worded areas of the proposed
terms of agreement. I
That vote occurred on Saturday, April 5. I was 'at Dallas City Hall on
Tuesday, April 8, accompanied by Gerald Oliver and Randy Wilson from
the General Staff, and Adam Smith of Headquarters on the phone. Within
90 minutes, we had resolved all issues to our satisfaction. OnWednesday,
April 9, in a specially called meeting, the General *aff met via conference
call and voted 11-0 to ratify its earlier selection of Dallas Executive Airport
as the home of the CAF National Airbase. I
From here, there are legal agreements and leases to be drawn up, city
committees to go through, and finally, approval by~the Dallas City Council.
A p p r ec i at i o n f o r Ho u s t o n an d s h er m aJ-Den i s o n
I would also like to state our appreciation of the t1A!0finalists not selected.
Houston Airport Systems generously offered a gr~at location at Ellington
Field. The good news here is that our Houston-area units will continue to
move forward with them, with the goal of establishing Airbase Houston
on that site.
I also want to thank the community of Sherman-Denison, which could not
have been more welcoming or professional in their efforts to attract the
CAF. In particular, the Choctaw Nation stepped forward with spectacular
and humbling generosity.
Dal l as Of f er
The offer from Dallas Executive is very attractive, but we cannot release
the exact details until we get the formal approval of the Dallas City
Council. We have agreed to terms with the mayor and city departments,
but the City Council is the final approving authority. As soon as it approves
the final documents, which are in process at the time of this writing, we
will publish them to the CAF membership.
I can say that we are very happy with the terms.
Ti m el i n e
The general timeline, which is subject to adjustment, is as follows:
Prior to the end of 2014, I will move with an advance team to start
working at the new site and on the fundraising initiative. There will
be at least five employees on-site at Dallas Executive by Dec. 31.
Prior to the end of 2015, the remainder of the CAF Headquarters Staff
will move to the Dallas facility. (Note: All Headquarters employees
have been offered the opportunity to relocate. Some have or will
make the decision to move. Those who do not choose to move are
being incented and encouraged to stay on until the end of 2015. The
open positions will be filled upon relocation.)
We will begin to operate some CAF aircraft out of Dallas within the
next 12 months. Due to a runway reconstruction project at Dallas
Executive, we foresee our first airshow commencing in 2017,
although we may hold some smaller-scale events prior to then.
The timeline to build a new visitor attraction and museum will
depend upon our success with fundraising--the earliest possible
opening date is in 2018, but agreements allow for the process to
take up to 10 years.
l ead er s h i p an d Res p o n s i b i l i t y
Who will do all of this work? Earlier this year, we recruited a great asset
onto the CAF staff, whose sole focus is the National Airbase Project. Adam
Smith has over 20 years of experience in the museum and attraction
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Perhaps most important, we have a powerful mission of education.
We will not be successful in fundraising, anywhere, unless our plans
are seen as making a valuable contribution to the local and national
community. We know our mission is pure, and ripe with opportunity
to educate citizens of all ages about the price of freedom.
There are many individuals, foundations and corporations that have
a history of generous giving to nonprofits in the Dallas area.
There are other tax incentive and rebate opportunities that we have
discovered and are investigating-with seven-figure potential.
The CAF has a supportive membership base, and the organization
is valued by the wider aviation community. We can show how the I Let's keep the GAFf/ying ... and moving forward!
National Airbase project will be of direct benefit to local CAF units,
and will help keep aviation strong in America. I Steve""';'
CA F m em b er s h i p h as i t s p r i v i l eg es
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Fi g h t er Sq u ad r o n (Su n .): 1A $76
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Dear CAF Members:
The choice is Dallas ami i t could not be more perfect in its fit of the criteria laid. out by your General Staff
as necessary for the best long-term success of the CAF.
It started with criteria. The General Staff tasked CAF President Stephan Brown to draft a plan for the
long-term future of the 9rganii;';ation~the guidelines for what needs to be done to ensure the CAF
thrives in ~Q~d tirrf'es and can SlJ rvive'il'l difficult times. The initial result, the Ai~base concept, is already 'in proeess witli Airbase Arizona
and Southern California.
The CAF has attained a higher profile these last few years as the leader in the warbird industry, and the most influential organization
in general aviatlon tOday.iheGI:meral Staff wanted to know how to tJ u[ld on this recent success; and, what could be dene if the CAF's
operations were threatened, such as, if 100LL fuel became unavailable or insurance became cosfprohibitive or some legislative action
grounded the fleet. From that thought process came discussions, and ultimately the decision, to look into moving the CAF's headquarters
away from Midlan(l, Texas, and to create a new National Airbase.
IFromthe start, the General Staff was disciplined in Ia:~il'lgout criteria for anew lecation, such as having an airport large enough t(') operate
all our aircraft, being in a large metropolitan area ana having interstate access.
The General Staff had strong conviction in this move, but we knew the task would be daunting, and the Colonels in the Midland-Odessa
area, a community that has been supportive for 20 years, would be, understandably, deeply disappointed.
Separately, we had to secure a 75 percent vote from membership for an amendment to the bylaws that would allow the General Staff to
change the location of the Headquarters. A vote just over 50 percent is considered a big victory; a 60 percent vote, let alone more than
70 percent, generally thought of as unattainable. Plus, there was a possibility that after embarking on this journey, there might not be a
community that fit the criteria and would welcome the CAF.
Despite these obstacles, there was no doubt from the General Staff or the Headquarters Staff that this was the correct move. And it
has proved to be true. First, a record number of Colonels participated in the election, and an excess of 75 percent voted in favor. This
is a powerful, powerful endorsement of the move. Second, 23 qualifying communities attended the first gathering. There was a spirited
competition among the communities. The entire General Staff visited each of the finalist communities and met all the community leaders,
both elected and civic.
Each finalist community hal comj1lelling proposals, but Dallas' overall package stood out as the obvious stronqest cholce, Dallas Mayor
Mike Rawlings, who leads.the ninth-largest city in the United States, embraced us from the outset. Rawllnqs is a busy man, yel: he attended
every meeting. He shepherded us through the process and is thrilled his city is our choice. Mayor Pro fem Tennell Atkins is equally
enthusiastic. Both considered the CAF a :high priority prospect and directed their staffs to do everything possible to get us to choose Dallas.
The result is.a first-class offer, topping all others.
I am completely satisfied and proud of the process. I say this not because I was Chief of Staff in this time period, but because the General
Staff and Headquarters Staff worked in concert, kept confidentiality, made thoughtful and deliberate decisions and most importantly,
maintained focus on the CAF's best long-term interest. The General Staff was candid and open with the membership revealing all it could
every step of the way.
I have no illusions that every Colonel will be happy with the choice. However, I am confident of two things: One, the Colonels will Show
patience and give the General Staff the benefit of the doubt. And, ' time, as the new CAF Natienal Airbase is built, every Colonel will
conclude that Dallas was the right choice for the long-term success of the CAF.
Neils Agather, CAF Chief of Staff
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