Ever wanted to be close to operational vintage aircraft? Do you have children who would want to become pilots in the future? Are you an aviation history buff? There is no better place to start than to visit the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) facility at San Marcos Municipal Airport, which is minutes from the Austin city line. The museum hosts one of the largest selections of vintage warbirds in the state of Texas.
The CAF Centex Wing hangar at the airport houses over a dozen planes, most of them flying conditions which participate in a number of yearly airshows. Included in their collection is a North American B-25 Mitchell, affectionately named “Yellow Rose”, which is the same type of plane used in the Raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942 – also known as the General Doolittle Raiders Attack during World War II. Sixteen similar B-25 light bombers were called to action that day off an aircraft carrier and had to fly very low during the mission to avoid enemy detection. The B-25 is meticulously cared for by the volunteers who spend countless hours bring her up to par. Apart from that, this is the only place where you can see the Bell P-39 Air Cobra and the more sophisticated Bell P-63 King Cobra fighters together. They were very unique in design with an interesting history. Only a couple of each remain active in the world today. Among other aircraft included are several T-6 Texans and converted Harvards (some made into Tora Tora Tora warbirds to simulate Japanese Zeros and Torpedo bombers in flying displays), Chinese-built Nanchang CJ-6 trainers, and Robert Weeks’ nice Lockheed T-33 jet (based on the Korean War era F-80 Shooting Star) in which they are hoping to get back in the air.
As mentioned above, one of the interesting factors of CAF museums is that their planes are usually airworthy. These volunteers, which consist mostly of the pilots and crews, work on them and are kind enough to give you a complete tour of the aircraft that are available at the time. Keep in mind that Spring and Fall seasons are busy airshow periods so some of the aircraft may not be available to tour.
CAF Centex Wing hangar is a great place to experience flying history first hand for the entire family. Located on the southeast side of the airport, it is easy to get to. From I-35, take Highway 80 east in San Marcos, to Highway 21 – Airport Road. The airport entrance is about 2 miles from there on the right (it is a small entrance). There is no charge for visiting but a donation of at least $5 per person is recommended. Apart from displaying aircraft, there is a very nice setup of WWII ships, models, cameras, and other vintage items in their establishment. The facility is usually open Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 AM to 4 PM. Their number is 512-396-1943.