Operations Blog

Welcome to the Commemorative Air Force Blogs. A great way to stay informed about what is going on with the CAF.

I served aboard the USS Hancock, in the Tonkin Gulf, as an airplane mechanic specializing in reciprocating engines. A CAF member since 1972, I am a founding member of TORA and the Gulf Coast Wing. I am also a member of the High Sky Wing, Coyote Squadron, Invader Squadron and Traron. I am a CAF Command Pilot with over 40 years of non-stop air show performing. My civilian flying career includes over 11,000 pilot in command hours, being Chief Pilot for a large corporate holding company and serving as an instructor pilot and program director of the Falcon 50-900 program for Flight Safety International. I hold type ratings in the Falcon 10, 20 and 50 series jets, the Gulfstream 100 jet, A-26, and the B-17. In addition to my duties as the CAF DO/ Chief Pilot, I also perform Training Center Evaluator (DA-50 Pilot exaimner) for Flight Safety at DFW.

My Participation in the Arsenal of Democracy Capitol Flyover

My Participation in the Arsenal of Democracy Capitol Flyover

May 8, 2015- Rolled out of bed at 0445 after a rather sleepless night. Brewed a cup of coffee, and stared at the wall trying to get my head around everything that needed to be done to make sure our B-17 Texas Raiders would be able to help salute the great individuals that secured our freedom during World War II. Checked ForeFlight for weather forecast. Looks good for our flight time. Shower, shave, and dressed in CAF attire.

Another cup of coffee! Check special paperwork required for this event. Lots of security hoops to get through getting here. Meet up with John Cotter, an excellent pilot that will be my first officer, and my replacement if something should prevent me from accomplishing the flight.

pilotbriedWe drive 45 minutes to Culpeper, Va. (CJR) to meet up with the other flyover pilots and crew for pilot briefing, meet with the air boss to discuss events from the previous day's practice session, and get the final briefing for the DC flyover.
Briefing over, and return to Manassas, Va. Got a text from Jake Doggett, our assigned flight engineer, that the TSA, and Secret Service had done a thorough check of our aircraft, and all is well. Jake also performed the required preflight, and confirmed the aircraft was airworthy. Jake is a dedicated young man, and very knowledgeable of the B-17 and her systems. He reminds me of a friend whose father was a B-17 FE, flying missions during World War II, he was also in his early twenties.

Arrive at Manassas airport (HEF), meet up with the crew, clear with TSA, and head for the aircraft. We are all trying to contain our excitement and focus on the mission. Passenger, and crew briefing accomplished, we take our stations in the B-17.

B-24 Diamond Lil the first four engine bomber that will lead us all out for the flight is starting engines. Time for us to follow their lead. We will be the second B-17 in the bomber flight. (Call sign Bomber 2) Time to put on the total, professional pilot hat, and get down to business. Sterile cockpit, and starting checklist.

Fire guard in place. Start engines 3, 4, 2 and 1. Good starts on all engines. We are number three to taxi. Run up complete, time to launch.

Scattered clouds at our holding altitude, so we give Bomber #1 a little extra room in the orbit. Air boss calls for bombers to push from holding point Eisenhower to hold point Nimitz. We step down in the holding pattern to 1,500' MSL and push to the Potomac river.

John is on the controls, and I am managing the power. Things are quiet except for a few words to confirm our location. I notice my heart rate is increasing as we near the turn point toward the National Mall. We are on target and on time. It takes about 90 seconds to make the flyby. Now for the turn south back to the Potomac river. OK, time to take a deep breath, and we are all grinning. Yeah, we did good, and Texas Raiders did her part exceptionally well.
It felt really good to be a part of such an important event.


B-17Crew AOD

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Going too Far in the Cockpit

Going too Far in the Cockpit

I was forwarded a link to a great and relevant article, that I invite all CAF members to read. It is especially good information to keep in mind and has certainly something that has come up recently.

Click the link below to read article from Aviation Week.

FAR Part 91.13: What Is ‘Careless or Reckless?’

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Fuel Check Issue and Cautionary Notice!

Fuel Check Issue and Cautionary Notice!

From Jed Doggett with the Gulf Coast Wing

This past Friday morning during B-17 Texas Raiders’ preflight inspection my son, Jake Doggett, one of our Flight Engineers,  was draining fuel for tanks 3 and 4. He noticed it had no color. He drained it several times thinking it was water, then decided to smell it since there was no change. It smelled more like Jet-A than 100LL. With further examination the fuel showed a specific gravity that did not check in the range of 100LL. The hydrometer went to the bottom of the container and did not register. We checked fuel from the Stinson 108 and it passed, at that point we had overwhelming evidence there was bad fuel in the tanks. 

We removed the fuel from tanks 3 and 4, tanks 1 and 2 were unaffected. After draining we put 125 gallons fresh 100LL in tanks 3 and 4 from a fuel truck and therefore we had clean fuel in those tanks. 

Saturday morning we checked a few spark plugs. Engines 1and 2 looked normal but plugs from 3 and 4 showed evidence of detonation. The porcelain was too clean with a yellow tint with lead balls adhering to it and the electrodes were blue, all evidence of detonation. Also signs of fouling were present. I had a racecar guy look at the plugs. Racing mechanics know spark plugs and his first question was what was the fuel contaminated with. We changed all the plugs in engines 3 and 4. We pumped fuel through the system and drained the fuel strainers. We test ran the engines and did a test flight. All temperatures and engine indications were great and the test flight was successful. 

I attached pictures that show plugs that are not a normal radial gray look. These are after a flight and a long taxi in. They should be much darker. 

We had a great group to help with the defueling headed up by our A/P Bruce Guest. It all went smoothly although it took longer than anyone expected. I can't stress enough that we need to be diligent in our preflight checks. This could have easily been a disaster in loss of one or more engines or worse. We are thankful for Jake Doggett, who did his job and forced the issue to the point that everyone was aware that we had a problem and a safety of flight issue! 


An additional note from Buddy Cooksey-

Friday morning, as soon as an issue was spotted, I received a call from Jed Doggett that during the pre-flight on Texas Raiders that Jake Doggett discovered what appeared to be fuel contamination. I told them to go no farther until I got there.

There were a number of people already there for the flight. Jed Doggett, Ole Nygren and Jake Doggett met me with the fuel samples in the hanger. There was no doubt the fuel contained a large amount of, what appeared to be another type of clear petroleum product.

I told them the airplane was grothe contamination was found in the engines fuel strainers. I advised Jed Doggett, that I thought it best to remove all the fuel from the aircraft, remove and clean all strainers. He was in full agreement, and is in the process of investigating the source of the problem.

Woody, the CAF Headquarters’ Director of Maintenance and Quality Assurance was notified. I will update everyone more on this as we find out what has happen.

I want to thank the Gulf Coast Wing for both discovering the issue and handling it appropriately.

LC (Buddy) Cooksey

CAF Director of Operations / Chief Pilot


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One thing that is sure to increase member retention in your unit is to allow your non pilot crew members or their guest to be able to sit in the co-pilot’s seat and handle the controls during cross country flights. How about a famous retired aviator requesting a little stick time for just one more time at the controls?


Seems like a good idea. To make sure, you record the event so the individual can post their photo, or video on their favorite social media page.


What could possibly go wrong?


A month later, you receive a letter from the FAA informing you that you they are investigating you for violation of the FAA’s CFR 61.55, 91.3(a),91.105 (a)(1)(2), 91.109 (a)(2), and 91.531(a)(c). This being an aircraft that requires a crew of two, the co-pilot will also receive a violation from the FAA.


In addition to the FAA requirements, CAF Regulation 60-1 (B) has a requirement for large (over 12,500 pounds) aircraft.


We are aware of the good will that comes from allowing others to get a little stick time, but the bottom line is “it isn’t the right or legal thing to do”.


We are at the peak of the flying season, and the CAF aircraft are flying missions all over the country. This is a very good thing, and we are very fortunate to be able to display these aircraft. Even better yet, we are able to generate revenue through the LHFE program, either with an LOA or Exemption 6802L. To continue with the LHFE program, we must display professionalism second to none in all areas of our operations.  Thanks to all of you, the warbird community is ever on the hunt to improve our image, and safety.




§61.55   Second-in-command qualifications.


(a) A person may serve as a second-in-command of an aircraft type certificated for more than one required pilot flight crewmember or in operations requiring a second-in-command pilot flight crewmember only if that person holds:


(1) At least a private pilot certificate with the appropriate category and class rating; 


§91.3   Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.


(a) The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.


Sec. 91.105 — Flight crewmembers at stations.


(a) During takeoff and landing, and while en route, each required flight crewmember shall—


(1) Be at the crewmember station unless the absence is necessary to perform duties in connection with the operation of the aircraft or in connection with physiological needs;


§91.109   Flight instruction; Simulated instrument flight and certain flight tests.


(a) No person may operate a civil aircraft (except a manned free balloon) that is being used for flight instruction unless that aircraft has fully functioning dual controls. However, instrument flight instruction may be given in an airplane that is equipped with a single, functioning throwover control wheel that controls the elevator and ailerons, in place of fixed, dual controls, when—


(1) The instructor has determined that the flight can be conducted safely; and


(2) The person manipulating the controls has at least a private pilot certificate with appropriate category and class ratings.


§91.531   Second in command requirements.


(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) and (d) of this section, no person may operate the following airplanes without a pilot who is designated as second in command of that airplane:


(c) No person may designate a pilot to serve as second in command, nor may any pilot serve as second in command, of an airplane required under this section to have two pilots unless that pilot meets the qualifications for second in command prescribed in §61.55 of this chapter.



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Required Flight Evaluation Board Actions


During this, my first year as CAF Director of Operations there have been numerous request from units requesting pilot ratings. Most have been complete, and processed with out to much trouble. However, on a number of submissions, we have also received incomplete documentation, and had to request additional information. This situation delays the entire process, and creates additional work for our already overworked Rita McNew.

The process for adding a new pilot, or adding an additional rating is defined in CAFR 60-1, Chapter 2, A.1, A.2, and A.3.a.

The preferred sequence of events should start with the needs of the unit.

The pilot candidate must provide a complete form 601 with the additional required documents for a new pilot, to the unit FEB.

The unit FEB, will then review the request, complete the CAFR form 600 with three signatures, and forward all required documentation to Rita McNew at CAF HQ.

Rita, will then review the documentation for completeness, and confirm that the candidate is current with their membership dues, and insurance, and will forward the request to Bob or myself.

Bob or myself will review the submitted information, and if the person meets the requirements, will be approved.


All FEB pilot submissions are handled as noted above. Those requesting a check out as a CAF check pilot, or in a CAF fighter, TBM, SBD, or SB2C will be required to have their documents reviewed, and approved, or disapproved by the Stan. / Eval. Committee.

The Stan. Eval. Committee normally receives all the documents through e-mail to review, and make comments for all to members to see.

By a majority vote the candidate is approved or disapproved with comments forwarded to Bob, and myself for final decision.


  1. Incomplete documentation
  2. Pilot resume does not contain the correct information for the rating desired.
  3. Scanned pilot certificate, or medical is unreadable.
  4. All submitted forms are not signed. Especially CAFR forms 600, and 601.
  5. Check pilot candidates must include a copy of their CFI, hours of instruction given, and total time in the requested aircraft in both seats.
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