Did it again! Went down to Florida and flew Crazy Horse. Not Crazy Horse the nightclub, Crazy Horse the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Wow, what a rush. Crazy Horse is a real World War II fighter plane. It is powered by a 1600 horsepower engine. It escorted bombers from England all the way to Berlin Germany. German General Hermann Goering said that when he saw the P-51 flying over Berlin he knew the war was over.
If it wasn’t for the P-51 we might all be speaking German. The P-51 was the longest ranged fighter in the war. Now over 70 years later you still have a chance to fly a World War II aircraft.
Stallion 51 is a company in Kissimmee Florida that restores, maintains and offers flight training in the greatest of all fighters of the World War II era. This was my third time to fly the classic fighter.
Stallion 51 offers rides and full flight training. They teach all the operating characteristics of the aircraft and have been responsible for helping make a better safety record for these aircraft.
During World War II young Lieutenants would get a small amount of training and be off to war. Incredibly North American Aviation created a perfect trainer in the AT-6 that transitioned the pilots into the P-51.
Now you can experience the thrill of flying this fighter with the professionals of the business.
Stallion 51 gives you an hour of ground school before the flight. They go over the maneuvers and the emergencies procedures for the airplane and show you where you are going to fly. They discuss some of the training that is going to be done and then discuss all the fun things that you will be able to do in the aircraft.
Once the ground school is complete, you head out to the airplane and are buckled into a parachute and buckled into the plane. Then the fun really begins. Cranking the merlin engine is a thrill in itself. The twelve-cylinder engine makes a distinctive sound. No one has a soul so dead that would not be thrilled to hear the engine crank.
It doesn’t take long to get out to the practice area for Mustang flying practice. Flying a military fighter requires lots of steep turns and unusual attitudes. We go through that and then get to start on the aerobatic maneuvers that the Mustang is capable of. Well, the Mustang is just about capable of everything. We spend almost the entire time doing loops and rolls. Finally, time for us to go back to base. We’ve covered lots of ground and maneuvers. We even do an overhead break over the runway like fighters do after returning from a mission.
After the flight, we get to review a videotape of the flight. There are three cameras installed on the plane, there is a cockpit view and two different outside cameras that show what the airplane is doing.
We review the tape and do some paperwork. What an experience. Getting to fly a World War II fighter is quite the thrill. Now comes the hard part. It’s time to start saving again for the next flight. Seventy-five year old planes take a lot of maintenance and they are expensive too. There are no P-51 stores around either. Many parts have to be made.
One of my friends has watched the videotape and now wants to go back in September. A flight is going to be his birthday present to himself. That is why I have to start saving now. I can’t very well let him go down there by himself. What kind of a friend would I be?