Sun n’ Fun – P-51 Mustang Day
There were more than 16,000 P-51 Mustangs built during its four decades of active military use. According to the website www.mustangsmustangs.com there are only 296 complete survivors. Of those 296, only 175 are in airworthy condition. Sun n’ Fun was fortunate enough to have 12 of those aircraft both in the air and on display at today’s show. In honor of its 30th anniversary, Stallion 51 from Kissimmee, Florida, a training facility for the P-51, organized the gathering from graduates of its program.
In 1940 the British Government approached North American Aviation to build Curtis P-40 Fighters for the Royal Air Force. Instead of building the older P-40, North American proposed a new, more modern design and thus the P-51 was born. The first prototype flew less than 120 days after the contract was signed. The original aircraft powered by an Alison engine was found to have challenges with high altitude performance. Replacing the Allison with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine solved that problem and created that distinctive P-51 sound that every airshow junkie loves.
Airshow visitors had the opportunity to see aerial demonstrations from Lee Lauderback and Andrew McKenna. Both pilots fly with the Heritage Flight Team.
According to the US Navy, the difference between an amateur and a professional can be summed up in a few words. To the delight of everyone at the airshow today, the remainder of the US Navy Blue Angles Demonstration Team arrived today. As the F-18’s took to the sky for what we all understood to be a practice session we were corrected by the announcer. “Amateurs practice. Professionals rehearse.” Based on today’s rehearsal, the Blue Angels are real pros.