Disappointment in Lexington

Miss D. and I arrived back home this afternoon after a disappointment in Lexington.  It turns out that the P-51 Mustang ‘Red Nose’, that was supposed to form part of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) visit to the city, wasn’t there.  It wasn’t scheduled to arrive until late on Saturday, offering flights only on Sunday.  Unfortunately, the CAF’s Web site was accepting bookings for flights aboard ‘Red Nose’ on Friday and Saturday.  We were able to book a flight on Friday morning, and drove all the way to Lexington and spent Thursday night in a hotel, expecting to have an exciting morning.  Needless to say, we were very disappointed to learn that wasn’t going to happen.

I don’t blame the volunteers who staff such visits – they were as disappointed as we were, and very sorry for the inconvenience and expense imposed on us.  Nevertheless, the CAF needs to get its act together.  If they’re charging thousands of dollars for the privilege of a flight aboard their aircraft, and they know in advance that the plane won’t be there, they shouldn’t accept advance bookings for it on their Web site.  I’m going to be writing to them, asking for a refund not only of our flight fee but also our incidental expenses.

Nevertheless, it was good to be on the road again with Miss D.  We enjoy each other’s company.  We’ll plan to catch a ride in a CAF Mustang next time one comes within reach of us.



  1. Hi Peter,

    I have worked with planes from the CAF and spent some time with a pro photographer who does a lot of work with them. These machines are 70 years old and they break down and need a ton of maintenance. Safety first.

    Scheduling is an approximate guess, not a Disney ticket (I do not mean that harshly).

    I flew from Texas to Minot ND to spend a couple of days with planes like these. The schedule was always loose as you really did not know how things would play out once the engines started. I got lucky (not flying in, but taking great pictures).

    These beautiful machines that actually fly are only here for a short time before they are all in museums as they will be impossible to maintain at any reasonable cost. A P-51 being maintained where was had its oil filters changed. $5000 on parts. Aviation is expensive. Old aviation is really expensive. Safety trumps all.

    You will get on that flight sooner than later.


  2. @Astrodominant: I understand all that. Maintenance, weather, etc. are not the points at issue at all. In this case, the plane simply was never scheduled to be there at the advertised times for which we booked Miss D.'s flight. There was some sort of miscommunication, whereby the people who do the Web site advertised (and sold) tickets that could not possibly be fulfilled. That's why I'm going to ask CAF for a refund of our incidental expenses. If the problem had been caused by weather or maintenance or something like that, I wouldn't complain. Those are known issues in aviation in general, never mind with warbirds.

  3. Peter,

    The original cadre of the CAF are no longer around. As is true in most such organizations, they have been taken over by professional fund raisers. I live near the former CAF HQ and Museum. Why former? Despite promises made in the past to get funding, they fled Midland, Texas for a larger city. This despite the oil boom bringing massive funding to the area.

    The made many new promises, and moved to the new location. A careful review of the promises the CAF has made over the past 15 years gives one little confidence that the central organization will prosper.

    Your experience is not unique. Seeing themselves as fund raisers, the CAF HQ has little concern with serving the public. It is very sad.

    That said, there are still some splendid people in the organization. I hope you will manage to arrange a flight sometime soon.

  4. Peter, I'm a member of the Wing that operates _Red Nose_. I'll have a word with some folks.


  5. You two still have a free flight coming in my Cessna. I realize that it's a few hundred horsepower short of a Mustanmg but it does at least have some red paint on its nose. And it's almost as old. 🙂

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