Old Aviators and Old Airplanes.....

Discussion in 'The Club House' started by CCW357, May 16, 2009.

  1. CCW357

    CCW357 New Member

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    Old Aviators and Old Airplanes.....

    This is a good little story about a vivid memory of a P-51 and its
    pilot by a fellow who was 12 years old in Canada in 1967.
    You may know a few others who would appreciate it.
    It was noon on a Sunday as I recall, the day a Mustang P-51 was to take
    to the air.
    They said it had flown in during the night from some
    U.S. airport,the pilot had been tired.
    I marveled at the size of the plane dwarfing the
    Pipers and Canucks tied down by her. It was much larger than in
    the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security
    from days gone by. The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then
    stepped into the flight lounge.
    He was an older man; his wavy hair was gray and
    tossed.
    Looked like it might have been combed, say, around
    the turn of the century.
    His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn - it
    smelled old and genuine.
    Old Glory was prominently sewn to its
    shoulders. He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride
    devoid of arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal
    (Expo-67, Air Show) then walked across the tarmac.
    After taking several minutes to perform his
    walk-around check, the pilot returned to the flight lounge to ask if
    anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while he
    "flashed the old bird up, just to be safe."
    Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by
    with an extinguisher.
    After brief instruction on its use -- "If you
    see a fire, point, then pull this lever!"
    I later became a firefighter, but that's another
    story.
    The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like
    a mirror from fuel flames as huge prop started to rotate. One
    manifold, then another, and yet another barked -- I stepped back with
    the others. In moments the Packard-built Merlin engine came to
    life with a thunderous roar, blue flames knifed from her
    manifolds. I looked at the others' faces, there was no
    concern.. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the
    guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. We did.
    Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing
    his pre-flight run-up.
    He'd taxied to the end of runway 19, out of
    sight. All went quiet for several seconds; we raced from the
    lounge to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of
    the P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not.
    There we stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down
    19. Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before,
    like a furious hell spawn set loose---something mighty this way was
    coming. "Listen to that thing!"
    said the controller. In seconds the Mustang
    burst into our line of sight.
    Its tail was already off and it was moving faster
    than anything I'd ever seen by that point on 19. Two-thirds the
    way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her gear going up. The
    prop tips were supersonic; we clasped our ears as the Mustang climbed
    hellish fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day haze. We
    stood for a few moments in stunned silence trying to digest what we'd
    just seen. The radio controller rushed by me to the radio.
    " Kingston tower, calling Mustang?"
    He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgement.
    The radio crackled, "Go ahead Kingston ."
    "Roger Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the
    circuit is clear for a low level pass."
    I stood in shock because the controller had, more or less, just asked
    the pilot to return for an impromptu air show! The controller looked at
    us. "What?" He asked.
    "I can't let that guy go without asking.
    I couldn't forgive myself!"
    The radio crackled once again, " Kingston , do I have permission
    for a low level pass, east to west, across the field?"
    "Roger Mustang, the circuit is clear for an
    east to west pass."
    "Roger, Kingston , I'm coming out of 3000 feet,
    stand by."
    We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes
    fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound was subtle at first, a
    high-pitched whine, a muffled screech, a distant scream. Moments
    later the P-51 burst through the haze.
    Her airframe straining against positive Gs and gravity, wing tips
    spilling contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again supersonic as the
    burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the field shredding
    and tearing the air.
    At about 400 mph and 150 yards from where we stood
    she passed with the old American pilot saluting.
    Imagine. A salute! I felt like laughing,
    I felt like crying. She glistened, she screamed, the building
    shook, my heart pounded. Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled,
    and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken clouds and
    indelibly into my memory.
    I've never wanted to be an American more than on that day. It was
    a time when many nations in the world looked to America as their big
    brother, a steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated
    difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the pilot
    who'd just flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant; humble,
    not a braggart; old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its
    best.
    That America will return one day, I know it will.
    Until that time, I'll just send off this story; call it a reciprocal
    salute, to the old American pilot who wove a memory for a young
    Canadian that's lasted a lifetime.
     
  2. flyingbrickracing

    flyingbrickracing New Member

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    "I'm coming out of 3000 feet"
    When I read that I found myself leanning in and grinning
    I live near a ANG base/ county airport/ air museun and they have fly ins every once in a while
    one of those was a P51 Mustang and that story brought it right back
     

  3. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    Great story. Thanks. :cool: