The Commemorative Air Force has named Henry “Hank” Coates, a former U.S. Navy aviator and flight training executive, as its new president and CEO.
The general staff, or board of directors, of the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to preserving warbirds and honoring American military history announced the appointment at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 23, noting that the move took effect immediately.
The CAF had been under interim leadership since Aug. 17, 2017, when Steve Brown resigned as president after 10 years in the post.
“We are very enthusiastic to bring on Hank as our new president,” said Doug Rozendaal, chief of staff of Dallas-based CAF. “He will play a key role in our organization’s leadership and is coming to us at a great time—in a period of remarkable growth and with tremendous opportunities in front of us. We have thoughtfully spent the past few months seeking out the best person to lead, inspire, energize, and connect with all of the important people and businesses that make our organization work. We just knew he was our guy and are very confident that Hank will take our vision and strategy for the organization and move it forward.”
Coates went on to become director of Quality Assurance and Emergency Engineering Solutions at an industrial construction firm serving the Gulf Coast oil and gas industry, returning to aviation in 2012 as president of flight training organization Aerosim AFA of Sanford, Florida. “There he built a team that delivered world-class flight training to those seeking to become fully qualified, professional airline pilots. It was in this role that he became committed to attracting more people to the field of aviation,” the announcement said.
The CAF was founded in 1957, and has assembled a collection of 170 historic aircraft, which the organization describes as the world’s largest collection of vintage military aircraft.
Coates shared his enthusiasm for his new role with the CAF in remarks included in the news release about his appointment. “World War II was an event that touched every person then, and, in many ways, formed the world in which we live now. It was a great victory for America because so many men and women sacrificed, worked very hard, and stood up against those who threatened freedom. The CAF is unique in that it doesn’t stop at preserving history; it extends to honor the people who contributed to that history, and then goes even further to leverage the amazing aircraft and stories of that era, to inspire and motivate new generations. And what really impresses me about the CAF is how much passion you see from all the people involved. From employees, members, and donors—they all share a fierce commitment to the CAF’s mission, and I’m really excited to be a part of it,” he said.