Steve Kaminsen

Steve Kaminsen

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron is pleased to announce a change of command with Steve Kaminsen as our new squadron safety officer and Red Tail crew chief. Steve is a long-time volunteer with the squadron and we are enthusiastic about this recent appointment.

In his new command, Steve will have several key responsibilities that will ensure the continued success and safety of the team. Duties of the crew chief and safety officer include:

– Keeping the aircraft available to meet the demands of the Squadron’s busy schedule
– Maintaining the safety of the aircraft and crew by operating within all requirements
– Ensuring the mechanic crew performs its duties on-schedule with safety as the highest priority
– Representing the CAF with dignity and respect

Steve’s passion for the CAF Red Tail Squadron and aviation runs deep. His first influence was within his own family. His father and two uncles had joined the United States Air Force to serve their country during WWII, but sadly the oldest was killed during the war. The Purple Heart he earned as a result of this great loss was displayed with honor alongside his photo in the family home and served as a reminder of the sacrifice and service the family had given to their country.

“I remember a picture of my uncle Vince standing with his crew in front of his B-17 taken stateside before shipping out,” said Steve. “Our family was very proud of him.”

Steve also had another family member whose military career helped fuel his interests. On the other side of his family, he had an uncle who served with the United States Army 5th Armored Division. He went on to become an Army Reservist and retired with full honors as a Captain.

“My first real look at a WWII aircraft came on a trip to the Black Hills where they were using a B-17 or two as fire bombers,” remembers Steve. “As my excitement for these vintage aircraft grew I was able to find an outlet for my aviation passion when I began volunteering at the Minnesota Air Guard Museum in the early 90s.”

That experience led him to exciting and fulfilling volunteer work at the Planes of Flame Air Museum at the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, MN, which has since closed its doors. “I still remember the first time I walked in one of the hangars,” says Steve. “There sitting in front of me were a couple of my childhood idols – an F6F Hellcat and an FG1D Corsair. That was it! I struck gold!”

After the museum closed, Steve was on the hunt for a new volunteer outlet to continue his love of these spectacular warbirds. And he found it with the Red Tail Project, as the CAF Red Tail Squadron was originally called.

Steve had known of Don Hinz, founder of the Red Tail Project, remembering that he had sponsored rides in a T-6 for local fundraisers. Steve’s first event with the Project was May 28, 2004, just one day prior to the tragic accident of the P-51C Mustang that took Don’s life.

“I met Don early that morning, we were the only two there. He had an infectious personality that made you feel like you could accomplish anything,” said Steve. “Little did I know what would transpire the next day. It was such a tragedy.”

All these years later Steve continues to serve the CAF Red Tail Squadron with pride and a deep commitment to fulfill the mission of the organization. Congratulations Steve on your new appointment and thank you for your years of service!

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