Gold Coast Chapter 351 area includes Broward, Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties, in the state of Florida. The chapter was chartered March 28, 1966. An early but important milestone in our history occurred in 1970 when the late Bob Rawls, a chapter member and the then Executive Director of the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, secured a North American Aviation F-86H Sabre Jet for the City to display from the Maryland Air National Guard. The jet arrived in 1970 and was installed on a pedestal in Ft. Lauderdale’s Holiday Park in 1974 after de-militarization was completed. The jet enjoyed 25 years of exposure to millions of citizens and visitors during that time. In May, 1999, under the auspices of our chapter, the jet was removed and trucked to Homestead Air Reserve Base for re-conditioning after its long exposure. The chapter paid the $7000 cost of materials and the labor was provided free by the United States Air Force. The jet was returned to the city in the summer of 2003 but was not remounted at the park until Veteran’s Day, 2004. Hurricane Wilma knocked it down and did considerable damage in October, 2005. The iconic fighter was then repaired and repainted by American Aero Services of New Smyrna Beach and remounted on Veteran’s Day of 2009. Our chapter continues to take a proactive role in ensuring its ongoing display and maintenance.
In 1992 and again in 1996, the chapter facilitated static air shows with what was then called the Confederate Air Force (CAF-now the Commemorative Air Force) out of Midland, Texas.
In September of 1997, Gold Coast planned and executed a gala celebration noting 50 years since the U. S. Air Force was established.
Between 1998 and 2004, the chapter managed 6 air shows at the Pompano Beach Air Park. These shows were noted for the broad array of aircraft displayed in the morning and the flying exhibitions that were done in the afternoon. Sadly, expenses of doing these shows grew faster than revenues from them, so these large undertakings were ended after the 2004 show.
Our chapter sponsors aerospace education and supports local JAFROTC units and USAF/Auxillary (Civil Air Patrol) squadrons in our community's schools, including teacher workshops, emphasizing to the promise of embracing STEM Programs in their classrooms.
Our Teacher of the Year (ToY) candidates through the years have garnered the prestigious recognition of being named AFA ToY for the State of Florida no less than 3 times.
The chapter takes a commanding role in the yearly December event, Wreaths Across America, at the beautiful South Florida National Veteran’s Cemetery in Palm Beach County.
Chapter representatives are always present at the yearly Challenge Air Event in January at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport. We are present to help coordinate and welcome the periodic visits from the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour as well as the less-frequent but equally exciting visits from the CAF and its one-of-a-kind B-29A Superfortress bomber, FIFI.
Come and join the Gold Coast Chapter as we continue to be all things AFA!