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Aircraft preservation group offers team-building events.

Heber--A local nonprofit organization has found a creative way to raise funds while also offering one-of-a-kind team-building experiences to Utah companies.

The UTAH WING OF THE COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE, a nonprofit group based in Heber that restores and flies historic military aircraft in order to preserve their history, relies mostly on private donations to maintain its operation. However, in order to earn additional funds for the organization, CAF members also help companies create unique team-building events, such as air shows and flights.

Tim Lapage, a volunteer pilot for CAF, says the organization has been providing team-building events for about three years.

"Companies can rent the space for a day and then, depending on what level of involvement they want, they can do different things," he says. "We can give people an experience flying in a World War II open cockpit airplane or we can show them modern aircrafts. Getting people to experience living history is the goal."

All money earned from hosting team-building events is used for gas during flights and to keep the airplanes flying, Lapage says. Currently, CAF has about 10 volunteer pilots.

In May, Salt Lake City-based MGIS, a company that provides insurance to physicians, worked with CAF on a team-building event for 45 of its top sales representatives. Using a theme of the 1980s movie Top Gun, MGIS employees participated in training meetings and activities that required them to rely on their fellow sales representatives to serve as their "wing men" during their annual three-day training. As part of the training, they spent some time in Heber with CAF members.

"We were able to weave in flying themes from Top Gun throughout the training, like never leaving your wingman and improving our kill ratio--or sales--without making it too cheesy. The CAF turned out to be the perfect place for us, because what it offered was totally unique," says Mark Dayton, vice president of marketing for MGIS.

The sales representatives were able to fly in a Stearman open cockpit biplane from World War II and browse through the aircraft museum in Heber.

"The flights gave everybody something to look forward to and gave them a common bonding experience," Dayton says. "They could choose to take a nice and easy ride or do loops and barrel rolls. It was something everyone could do and enjoy. It was a really unique venue you don't get anywhere else."

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Author:Madison, Rachel
Publication:Utah Business
Date:Aug 1, 2013
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