The Middle of Nowhere-Midland/Odessa


The Middle of Nowhere

By Harry and Linda Kaye Perez

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For the average person who is not aviation minded and has not yet grasped the true meaning of the freedom of flight, it is easy for them to think, “Why in the world would anyone want to fly to an airport out in the middle of nowhere.”

Besides the obvious answer, “Because it’s there;” and because we, as pilots, are always ready to go out into the wild blue yonder to become a better aviator, the Permian Basin in far west Texas and the surrounding area, does in fact, have a great deal to offer beyond the flying aspects. In addition to the CAF Airpower Museum, there are several art museums, the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, the Big Bend National Park, Alpine/Marfa, Fort Davis, San Angelo, Judge Roy Bean’s place this side of Del Rio and several archeological and geological sites.

In the geographic center of the Permian Basin is the city of Midland, Texas, probably known best for the Midland- Odessa oil and natural gas wells that produce over one-fifth our nation’s supply. Midland had its beginning in 1881 as the Midway Station for the Texas and Pacific Railroad between El Paso and Fort Worth and four years later changed its name to Midland. Because of the railroad, Midland also became an important shipping center for the cattle industry. During World War II, the largest bombardier training base in the U.S. was located at the airport and the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Headquarters now calls Midland home.

This mid-sized city of just over 111,000 was the birthplace of Former First Lady Laura Bush as well as the onetime home of former President George H. W. and Barbara Bush. The Permian High School football team was a powerhouse in the 1960-1980 era and was the inspiration for the movie Friday Night Lights. It can serve as a jumping-off place to access the entire region.


Midland International Airport:

Because of the recent shale oil boom in the area, the Midland International Airport (KMAF) has once again become a busy destination point for both airline and general aviation air traffic. The airport has four runways: 04-22, 4,605’ x 75’; 10-28, 8,302’ x 150’; 16L-34R, 4,247’ x 100’; and 16R-34L, 9,501’ x 150’. It has a control tower (118.7) and maintains 12 IFR approaches. Be sure to check the Airport/Facility Directory for NOTAMS, for there have been numerous runway/taxiway closures recently. You can find a sample flight plan that depicts an IFR flight from San Antonio Stinson (KSSF) to the Midland Airport (KMAF) at


Avion Flight Centre provides pilots and their aircraft a full array of services on a 24/7 basis, such as a new 6000 sq. ft. pilot friendly facility, first-class lounge, weather and flight planning room, snooze room with showers, internet access, on-site rental cars, hotel discounts, courtesy cars, hangar and office space and, of course, fuel-100LL, Jet-A and Jet-A prist. Check out their website,

Commemorative Air Force (CAF)

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF), originally known as the Confederate Air Force, was founded in 1957 to “acquire, restore and preserve, in flying condition, a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.”

The Ghost Squadron is the flying arm of the CAF and recreates and reinforces the lessons learned from the defining moments of the world at war and in particular American military aviation participation in those historic times. The Ghost Squadron engages the public in this endeavor through numerous air shows throughout the country. “A generation which ignores history has no past and no future” – Robert Heinlein


The mission of the CAF Airpower Museum is to tell the complete story of World War II military aviation, and does this very well, by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the culture of that era. The museum is filled with exhibits depicting every aspect of the war.

One of the most popular exhibits is the Save the Girls Nose Art Gallery containing 33 painted panels that were cut from fuselages of World War II aircraft as they were being scrapped after the war ended. These panels were collected by Minot Pratt, general manager of the company charged with the salvage operation, stored in a barn and long forgotten until his son, Tully Pratt, discovered them.

The entire collection was donated to the CAF and stored once again until the CAF relocated to Midland and built its new facilities. After being stored for over 50 years, funds became available in 1998 for restorations and over the next ten years, the 33 panels were restored and placed on display, making the CAF exhibit the largest collection of nose art in the world.

The museum is located on airport property, but not within walking distance from the terminal or the FBO. You will need to borrow one of the FBO’s courtesy cars, or if they are not too busy, the rental car shuttle at the terminal that is only a two-minute walk from the FBO facility, will give you a ride there. The museum is closed on Sunday, Monday and major holidays. 

Check their website: ( for a 2 for 1 coupon for entrance fee.

Whether you are flying in from nearby or from afar to visit the CAF Airpower Museum, or better yet to take in the CAF Airshow, you will not be disappointed.


   © Harry Perez 2012