Monday, January 27, 2014

Air Force Loses a Wing?

Groups like the CAF always have trouble keeping it together.  Mix people who are passionate about things with those who are passionate about themselves and nothing is going to stay bolted for long.  The question here is, which group is which?
I'd love to hear what you think about it.  If in this case the issue follows the strict rules of "how to screw up a good thing with non-profits", you can guarantee someone up top is playing dictator. But, you never know.  Every group has good people and bad.  For now though, here's a copy of the first public shot in what will likely become another legendary, although little publicized, battle among "The Colonels".
Oh wait, there's one other thing.  Without passing judgement on either side, I think I have a solution to all the petty issues that have always plagued the organization; it's the flight suits; get rid of them.  Make it a mandatory CAF court marshal for anyone who is caught wearing anything other than cutoff cargo pants and a Hawaiian shirt. Then get rid of the "Colonel" titles.  Instead let's go with the name of any drink other than something that starts with "Captain" or "virgin". From what I've seen "Shirley Temple, Death in the Afternoon, Porchcrawler, The Royal Arrival, Flaming Volcano, Zombie, El Toro Loco, Kamikaze, Bellini, Pink Squirrel, Redheaded Slut, and water would all be acceptable.
Think how much harder it would be for someone to be a jerk with these lines in the bylaws. The snobs would never lower themselves to such blue collar fun and the uptights would be too uptight for them. Left standing would be the people who've done all the work through the years anyway.  
I almost forgot; here's what started all of this:

January 24, 2014
To:  Commemorative Air Force Headquarters
        General Staff
        Keith Lawrence, Vice President of Administration
        Floyd Houdyshell, Secretary/Treasurer
From:  Diane Fenner
            New Mexico Wing
            1318 N. Dal Paso
            Hobbs, New Mexico, 88240

We, the members of the New Mexico Wing, are closing our doors.   This is a sad day for the first CAF Wing outside of Harlingen, formed in the early 1970’s.   The idea a “Wings” was the brain child of Col. Hal Fenner with the idea that the CAF will thrive long into the future if members can work and restore aircraft close to where they live, thus bringing the passion for the CAF mission close to home and firmly into many lives.   From the first Wing located in Hobbs, New Mexico, the idea spread across the United States and around the world.   The concept is why the CAF is still here today.

A thousand words can be said for why we are no more, but it really boils down to one action taken by the current regime, and that was kicking our duly elected general staff members, Floyd Houdashell and Graham Robertson, off the general staff for casting 2 descending votes in a staff decision.

The members of the southeastern New Mexico, and across the country who were “in the know” of this action were shocked, disgusted, and in total dismay of the fundamental message this action conveyed.  The flowery words and the propaganda put forth to justify it were meaningless and did not fly.  We are an organization that honors the principles and values for which our country fought WWII to protect, yet our own organization has adopted the mindset and the practices of the other side of WWII.

This action, followed by the hideous treatment of the CAF’s shining star, our world class, accredited, Smithsonian-equal Museum, rendered to a shell of a building full of artifacts for profit by removing its founder, its board, its employees, and all who viewed the museum with the honor it deserved.  Members simply doing their jobs, kicked out for life by means of a bogus lawsuit and intimidation.  

These actions made it impossible to recruit new members without lying about what the organization now really is.  It absolutely killed the esprit de corps of the membership which is vital for survival. 

“The CAF values the lessons of WWII” No, our actions do not demonstrate democracy, freedom of speech or the basic concepts of our own country’s Constitution.  We are governed by fear of repercussions if one speaks out.  Fear of what will happen to our aircraft or our Wing.

“The CAF values its members”   No, we elect general staff members who represent our views and then get kicked out of the organization for simply doing their job.
“The CAF values its employees”   No, only if you are a quiet puppet will you survive, with over 20 good people making their exit over the last 6 years, for very good reasons which the general staff refuse to explore, ask, or care.

Our current members refuse to send a dime to headquarters; will not pay their dues, as a display of the only way they know to make their statement of disgust.   No new members.   No retention of old members.   The end of a great Wing.  

While we understand this is all by design, master minded by Steve Brown and a few select general staff members. Concepts like Failure By Design employed on the Permian Basin to make excuse to move to the big city.   The future of the CAF.  A couple of mega Wings, Super Wings, Airbases, or Star Ship Enterprises, whatever nifty word you want to call them.  The “Good Old Boy’s Flying Club” has never been so prolific  as it is today, and as grand as you think you are, you will have a difficult time without the members.   Those who are in it for person gain you will keep.   Those who are in it to support the true values of the generation that fought WWII will be history – such is the members of the New Mexico Wing.            

Diane Fenner #11263, Life Member #2785


Matthew VanDervort said...

It's very said to read this, the Older aircraft (warbirds and GA alike) come closer and closer to being lost to the history books everyday. These kinds of actions aren't just special to the CAF, it happens in many groups across the aviation spectrum. New members and ideas are needed to keep these alive. Exclusivity may be grand for the individual but does nothing for the cause.

Matthew VanDervort
A&P/IA Private Pilot
Taylorcraft and Pietenpol owner.

Rich Davidson said...

I agree Matt. It's also important to remember that wealth does not automatically make someone bad and these planes need money to survive and fly. The issue comes when people forget the goal. This one seems capable of going either way.

Anonymous said...

My Grandpa (George Hefflinger) was pres of the APM in Blakesburg for a lot of years. I loved it there and we went often. He always told me "the AAA/APM isn't as big as the EAA, CAF or others...but the people are the reason to go - the airplanes are almost secondary". And he was absolutely correct. I dare say that AAA - by keeping their focus - is in many ways more successful than any of them. The people and the focus. Not that there was never drama - but good people can make "drama" disappear or seem a non-event. AAA/APM Uber Alles!


COL S.S. McDonald (ret) said...

Welcome to the real world New Mexico. "Send your money, but keep your mouth shut while WE run our organization." The original Florida Wing was expelled in 1976 by the Confederate AF bosses in Harlingen. They couldn't expel me because I am a Life Member #201. So I guess I am the last living member of the original Florida Wing of the CAF. This former Florida wing proceeded to form the Valiant Air Command and left CAF behind. I don't participate in the CAF anymore after they changed the name to Commemorative; {what a bunch of politically correct cowards} (incidentally, the Commemorative AF will not sell me the name Confederate AF.) The present CAF has reciprocated by excluding me from mailings (which is OK) and a ballot for corporate voting in elections (a felony by some accounts). My advice? Leave this present CAF to their empire builders and put your money into your projects.