Heber Valley has many jewels that make this place special. One particularly impressive jewel is the Utah Wing of the Commemorative Air Force at Russ McDonald Airfield. The mission of the CAF is to preserve and honor the legacy of the men and women of the armed forces in World War II. We recently caught up with wing leader Steve Guenard, he leads the all-volunteer organization many of which are former armed forces members. Guenard showed us that there is more to this museum then stuffy artifacts. Here are the 7 reason to visit the Utah Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
Once described as the “greatest generation,” the citizens of the United States can trace the freedoms they have today to the veterans of World War II. Since WWII US freedoms have been attacked, but not in such a singular way as in the 1940s. The CAF’s mission to honor and share the legacy of WWII veterans through aviation. Guenard estimates “there isn’t a person in this country that doesn’t have a relative that wasn’t somehow involved with WWII.” Sharing the stories of bravery, heroism and sacrifice is what the volunteers at the CAF do best.
Not many people know that the CAF Museum in Heber City offers plane rides in few different historic WWII planes. Guenard said he hasn’t seen a single person come off a ride in the Stearman open cockpit bi-plane without a smile on their face. Riders beware, he warns it takes about a month for the smile to fade. Rides can be arranged through the CAF museum by contacting them. Rides range in price and time, contact the CAF for further details.
In addition to being a jewel, and a wealth of information to the valley, the CAF Museum is also available for company events, weddings, and other large group gatherings. Can you imagine how memorable your next event would be surrounded by some of the most iconic vintage planes from early Aviation history?
The CAF is run by many retired former military pilots who still love aviation. Sharing that love is their passion, so much so that they have create a weekend program to help Boy Scouts earn their aviation merit badge.
When you go to the CAF Museum you’ll hear some amazing stories about early aviation during WWII. Historic planes fill the hangar along with real memorabilia donated by soldiers and pilots who served during the war. This combined experience will leave you with a feeling of deep gratitude for the men and women who serve. You’ll thank a veteran.
Each branch of the Commemorative Air Force is assigned an air craft to maintain in flying condition. The Utah Wing has a PT-17 Stearman in which volunteers from all around the Heber and Salt Lake valleys work to keep her airworthy. Additionally many of the members of the CAF own other historic planes and work to keep them in flying order on their own. Many of them are on display at the museum and be seen. The neat thing about this museum is that with the help of the tour guides you’re allowed to get up close to see and feel the aircraft. There are about eight total air craft out at the Heber City Airport ranging in size from single seaters to larger gunships.
Each year the CAF puts on several events to show case the fun things going on over there. Just about every year they bring in a WWII bomber plane to showcase to the public. On Saturday, August 6 they will be hosting an air plane and car show. This fun event will showcase fun vintage planes with classic cars from all eras. After the car show has ended then comes more fun with a big band swing dance common to the 1940s. Entrance to the car show is their suggested donation, and the swing dance is $25 per couple. It will be a lot of fun.
Regular museum hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm May through October, also by appointment at 435- 640-6806. www.cafutahwing.org.