The Commemorative Air Force's Marshalling, Ramp & Tug, and Flightline Services Detachments


When attending an airshow, the main attractions are often the vintage aircraft performing breathtaking manoeuvres in the sky. However, behind the scenes, specialized teams-the Commemorative Air Force's Marshalling, Ramp & Tug, and Flightline Services Detachments-work diligently to ensure the safety and smooth operation of the event.

These groups provide critical support to the entire airshow community. Their role is multifaceted, encompassing a range of responsibilities that contribute to these events' overall success and safety.

Flightline Services Detachment refuelling a P-40.

One of the primary duties of the Marshalling Detachment is to guide aircraft on the ground. This involves directing planes during taxiing, parking, and take-off. Using a combination of hand signals and batons, the marshals communicate with pilots to ensure that aircraft are moved safely and efficiently. This precision helps prevent accidents and maintains an orderly flow on the tarmac.

The detachment also plays a vital role in crowd control. Airshows attract large numbers of spectators, and keeping them at a safe distance from operational areas is essential. Marshals are responsible for setting up barriers, guiding visitors, and following safety protocols. This protects the public and safeguards the valuable and often irreplaceable aircraft on display.

In addition to safety and crowd control, the Marshalling Detachment assists with logistical tasks. This can include coordinating with other support units, managing vehicle traffic on the ground, and helping to set up and dismantle event infrastructure. Their work ensures that airshows run smoothly, allowing performers and visitors to enjoy the event without disruption.

The flightline services detachment is a dedicated group within the CAF responsible for managing the flightline-the area where aircraft are parked, serviced, and prepared for flight. Their role is crucial in maintaining the safety, efficiency, and overall success of airshows and other aviation events. These members work closely with the pilots and marshallers to oversee refuelling, oil, and maintenance services.

Marshaller giving thumbs up to Mustang pilot

The effectiveness of these detachments is a testament to their rigorous training and teamwork. The teams are trained to handle various aircraft types and are familiar with each one's unique requirements. They follow strict protocols to prevent accidents and ensure that all operations adhere to safety standards.

They both must communicate clearly and work in unison to manage the dynamic environment of an airshow. They act as a central hub, liaising with pilots, ground crews, event organizers, and other support teams. Their coordinated efforts help prevent incidents and minimal delays and ensure a seamless experience for everyone involved.

The dedication of the Marshalling and Flightline Services Detachments reinforces the CAF's ability to carry out its mission to Educate, Inspire, and Honor.

While the pilots and aircraft often take center stage, the Marshalling Detachment is essential to the airshow experience. Their hard work behind the scenes is critical but frequently overlooked. The next time you attend an airshow, take a moment to appreciate the marshals and flight line service teams-the unsung heroes who keep everything running smoothly.

The basic function of a marshaller is to control movement of aircraft prior to and after flight. This function is performed mainly on the ramp at an airport, occasionally on a taxiway, and on the ramp of a wing or squadron hanger. We provide trained personnel to ensure safe ground operations for aircraft of all types and sizes encountered at airshows. These aircraft include propeller-driven, rotor-craft and modern military jets.

The Marshalling Detachment of the Commemorative Air Force is under the direct command of Headquarters, Commemorative Air Force and at all times endeavour to perpetuate the aims and objectives of the CAF which are;

To preserve, in flying condition, a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States in World War II.
To provide museum buildings for permanent protection and display of these aircraft as a tribute to the thousands of men and women who built, serviced and flew them.
To perpetuate in the memory and hearts of all Americans the spirit in which these great planes were flown for the defence of our nation.
To establish an organization having the dedication, enthusiasm and esprit de corps necessary to operate, maintain and preserve these aircraft as symbols of our American military aviation heritage.
The duties we perform at airshows include; movement of aircraft on the ramp, safety of the aircraft and pilots, safety of the spectators and working with aircraft crews.

To learn more about joining the team or to book the marshalling detachment for an event, check out their new website at

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