Brad and I didn’t get over our excitement of flying in two P-51 Mustangs before I got an email from Stallion 51. They could send the training syllabus when I scheduled the next flight. I had flown with them four times now and three had been with the same instructor. When could I schedule the next flight?
I’m just a sucker for this good sales pitch. I called and scheduled the next flight. Brad and I made plans to drive back to Kissimmee for my flight. Brad was going to sit out a flight but was going to the ground school briefing. This stuff is no joke when you start to check out in the front seat of the Mustang.
They send you an operating handbook, a syllabus, an exam to fill out, a historical exam about the mustang, and a voluminous checklist for the airplane. Whew! That took some studying. Also, there were some trick questions too. They told me later that some answers couldn’t be found in the material I had.
The pre-flight briefing is about three hours long. A lot of time is spent on the checklists and how the systems work in the Mustang. This is a complicated airplane. It has a liquid cooled engine and the radiators for the engine coolant and the oil coolers have automatic doors and the super chargers have automatic setting. All these systems have to be monitored almost constantly. There is a lot to check and when we finally get into the airplane, I feel like I’m a little overwhelmed.
Brad is taking pictures and now I’m getting buckled into the cockpit. I have on a flight suit and a helmet and the sweat starts to flow. Remember this is Florida.
The P-51 has a lot of systems and the checklist is long. We get started and taxi out for the runway. Checks complete and it is time to takeoff. I do make a conscious effort to slow down. “Stay Calm, enjoy this, don’t screw up.” I talk to myself all the time.
Holy Cow, this thing really is a beast. Sitting in the front of the Mustang and getting to do the takeoff is awesome. Visibility is great and in no time we are up at eight thousand feet and start to do flight maneuvers. The Mustang is a high performance aircraft and we do lots of slow flight and stalls. Then we get into the aerobatics. This is my favorite part. This aircraft loops and rolls effortlessly. However, it can get you into trouble with its stall characteristics. We spend a lot of time going over this flight regime.
Now is the time for takeoff and landing practice. We head over to nearby Bartow, Florida for that practice. This is interesting for me. The T-6 I own was stationed in Bartow, Florida when the Air Force used it as a trainer.
We make several takeoffs and landing and then it is time to head back to Kissimmee. The landing practice has helped. I make a fair landing and we taxi back to the headquarters of Stallion 51. We spend almost an hour going over the flight and reviewing the video of the flight.
Wow, what an experience. I feel like I’m in sensory overload. Brad is thinking about when he is coming for his next flight. Instructor Steve has this grin on his face that says “He’ll be back soon.”
After doing all the paperwork, we head back to South Carolina. During the six hour drive, there is plenty of time to plot the next steps.
It won’t be long before we schedule another flight. I’ve got an envelope and started putting money away for the next time. This turned out to be Brad’s Birthday present that keeps on giving.