History of the Lobo Wing
A CAF Squadron Charter affiliate of the New Mexico Wing was acquired September 17, 1984. There were 10 Colonels, eight fully employed and two semi-retired. The immediate objective was to make the presence of the CAF and the Lobo Unit known in an effort to accumulate all the needs required for an aircraft restoration project. Due to limited resources the group felt a duty to do the things that no one else wanted to do, an approach that has continually carried the unit forward. Our reputation was to be one of providing support to all worthy causes, primarily aviation oriented, including organizations other than our own. In 1985 the Lobo Squadron became a sponsor of the New Mexico Pilot’s Association annual “Pilot’s Rendezvous”, a fund raising effort for charity. It has sustained this sponsorship for 18 years, the last five which have provided from five to seven $500 scholarships annually to young men and women under the age of 21 for furthering their aviation education…primarily to young adults whose career options appear limited. The award is given directly to a deserving individual’s accredited school for any form of specialized aviation course and is not limited to flight training. Typically, the Lobos also provide the “set-up, tear-down, clean up” effort for the total attendance. Over the years, four Lobo members have been awarded the “Blue Max”, the NMPA’s highest aviation award, for their contribution to New Mexico aviation. The City of Albuquerque invited the Lobo Squadron to a reception honoring the contribution of local voluntary organizations in 1986. At year’s end the Lobo Squadron leader was invited by the Mayor to sit on the City’s Planning Committee for an upcoming nationally recognized Air Show planned for 1989. The Kirtland Air Force Base invited the Lobos to their open house events and two members did a memorial fly-over with their privately owned war birds. The Lobos located and acquired a Wright R-3350 engine and loaned it as a display to the National Atomic Museum. This engine, together with a Norden Bomb Sight, and a Lobo restored Link trainer were major components of the Albuquerque Museum’s Balloon to Bombers exhibition. US Senator Jeff Bingaman’s Office arranged for the Pentagon to provide specification assistance for the Lobo “Link” restoration. Lobos participated in the Museum’s original 1911 Curtiss Model T pusher biplane assembly & exhibit effort and provided “docent personnel” as needed during the 3 month exhibit.
Permission was obtained from KAFB to salvage possible usable parts from a B-29 hulk that had been used for armament testing. The group, working in the desert wearing required “Moon Suits”, accumulated over 3500 lbs. of various items of potential use. After decontamination, the salvaged materials were stored on donated space and held for 7 years. This material, together with five B-29 wheels, a small bulldozer designed for glider use, an R3350 display engine, and a Link Trainer, were picked up by Midland and some are currently on display. Another “acquired” engine, an R2600, was provided to the West Texas Wing SB2C restoration “reserve parts” bin…and was put to immediate use for cowl fitting.
The Air Fiesta de Santa Fe marked the completion of the Santa Fe City Airport renovation in 1988. The Lobo Squadron received a letter of recognition for being instrumental in its success by bringing in 11 war birds and assisting in program planning and operations. The following year the Lobo unit was assigned responsibility for war bird attendance at the City of Albuquerque’s successful “Southwest Airlines Air Show”.
By this time, the group was a fixture at the Albuquerque “Balloon Fiesta” and July 4th Annual Parades with its trailered large scale PT-26 aircraft model being towed by a newly acquired and refurbished Lobo PX van. Indeed, the Squadron had also become a fixture on the local PBS, KNME-TV Pledge Drive Programs by volunteering as a group to handle the Station’s Pledge Drive telephone response. A Citation of Appreciation was received from KNME-TV in recognition of over 500 volunteer service hours.
On January 26, 1989, the Squadron received its charter as a Wing unit of the CAF and celebrated by hosting a fabric covering seminar for members and all others in the local aviation community who were interested. The relationship with Kirtland AF Base continues as the Lobos help celebrate the KAFB 50th Anniversary in support of the 7th Annual Memorial Bombardier Reunion.
Early fund raising efforts involved the donation of a truck and automobile badly in need of repair and refurbishing, projects that provided early testing of the group’s skills and participation. The vehicles were quickly completed and sold, developing proceeds that enabled the purchase of a used Air Force Van from the New Mexico State Salvage Yard for use as a PX vehicle.
In 1988 the first 50/50 cash raffle was introduced and has met its goal for 14 straight years. In 1995 the winning $1000 grand prize was a ticket purchased by a Lobo on behalf of the Gulf Coast Wing B-17, Texas Raiders.
Every fund raising effort has met its goal enabling the purchase of a zero time engine, center section rebuild, wing rebuild, canopy, and all needs of the PT-26 restoration project and enabled successful hosting of all CAF B-29/B24 visits by providing fuel, oil, crew lodging and transportation.
The completed PT-26 aircraft restoration is being campaigned throughout the area and members are continually seen at air shows and other events across the country.