Although the U.S.A.F “Thunderbirds” are going to headline just about any airshow they attend, they were not the only ones performing in Ohio that day. The Mustangs and Legends event has been held bi-annually in the past but this may be one it’s last appearances. Many of the veteran fliers present at this celebration are in their eighties or older. Every year the number of flyable P-51 airframes gets slightly smaller. Two were wrecked in a landing accident at an earlier show just this year in Ohio.
The picture above is of “Old Yeller”. It was flown by Robert A. “Bob” Hoover for years at aerobatic demonstrations and the Reno air races. I saw “Bob” perform at the Transpo ’72 airshow in Dulles Va in 1972. He could dance this aircraft down the runway, first on one wheel then the other. He would do 4 and 8 point rolls just a few feet off the runway, then come back and repeat the same manouvers with the engine SWITCHED OFF ! Later on he would fly a twin engine Shrike Commander and do the same routine with both engines switched off. That aircraft now resides in the Udvar-Hazy Air Museum in Dulles, just a short distance from where I watched it perform. I remember it clearly to this day, even though that show is most remembered for the fatal crash of one of the Thunderbirds F-4 Phantom jets. I watched that too. Makes a pretty big impression on a 15 year young boy.
Then there are the “Legacy Flights” In this photo, the number 1 aircraft is another beautifully restored p-51 Mustang leading a diamond formation flanked by the new F-22 raptor and an F-15 Eagle, followed up by an F-16 Fighting Falcon. Another “Once in a lifetime ” shot . Sixty-five years of advanced fighter engineering in one moment.
I think that there were over 100 Mustangs at the show. To see these old birds still doing their thing after 60 years was inspirational. Here are some shots of a few of them landing and taxiing by. The smoke is from a pyrotechnic display which was so big, the smoke took about 15 minutes to clear enough for some of the”Attacking Aircraft” to land.
“Polar Bear”. An early model P-51A Mustang with an Allison engine instead of the later British Rolls-Royce “Merlin”. This aircraft crashed near Summit Alaska in 1944. The wreckage was recovered in 1977, and after an eight year long restoration, flew again in 1985.
There were more than just Mustangs here that day. An impressive array of old warbirds took to the air. Here is a wonderfully restored B-17G. Passenger flights are available for $450.00 and up. Getting these big guys to Berlin and back depite the attentions of the Luftwaffe was what the Mustangs were all about.
All good things must come to an end. At the end of the day there was a flyover of as many Mustangs as could be safely be put in the air at one time. Here is the “51” formation flown by all Mustangs. I don’t reckon I’ll ever see this again either. Bye Bye Y’all and thanks for stopping in.
Next up:The Museum.