On July 4, 2016, the Collings Foundation was visiting Boeing Field with their B-24, B-25, B-17 and P-51C aircraft. Mike took 0.7 hours of flight training in the P-51C Mustang.

After a few mins getting the feel of the P-51, I was hit with this conundrum. Sure it has enough fire-breathing power and performance to kill you in a blink, and there's this foreboding sense of responsibility not wanting to screw up and destroy a magnificent 70-year-old piece of history despite having the CFI on board doing the real flying. Yet at the same time I expected the P-51 to be this beasty monster and instead found it so smooth and responsive and natural feeling, not just fast but also quick despite its weight, sensitive but not twitchy, just a really sweet flying airplane. I don't mean to imply it's easy to fly, at 0.7 hours I'm no judge of that, I don't even have the skill to fly it on my own - the CFI up front did all the hard work. Even so, it seemed much more well behaved than I expected which left me in even greater awe of the men who designed it, and admiration for the men who mastered this airplane and flew it into battle.
2016-07-04-09-09-34-0875  This is the P-51C Mustang. 2016-07-04-09-11-00-0878  Another view of this beautiful, historic high performance aircraft. The open area below behind the radiator scoop looks like the waste hot air vent that can be opened and closed by the pilot in flight. 2016-07-04-09-12-20-0879  The P-51 from the rear. 2016-07-04-09-12-37-0880  Fueling up. The P-51C takes about 85 gals of 100LL gasoline in each wing, and the 1,500+ HP Packard built Rolls Royce Merlin liquid cooled, intercooled, dual-stage supercharged V-12 burns from 60 to 90 gallons per hour.
2016-07-04-09-21-24-0881  Fueling and pre-flight complete, ready to fly! 2016-07-04-09-21-41-0882  Yet another view of this amazing airplane. 2016-07-04-09-25-32-0883  Rob, the pilot, just helped his 1st passenger of the day aboard. 2016-07-04-09-25-51-0884  The pilot finishes up the last couple of pre-flight checks before boarding the airplane.
VID 20160704 093034  Firing up the engine, first cold start of the day. This video is long but worth the wait. After reading about the myths of the Merlin V-12 engine - people standing by with fire extinguishers, flames shooting out the exhaust, etc. this real-life start seemed benign. If you watch carefully you'll see a puff of smoke come out of each of the exhaust pipes in sequence before it lights off. At idle, the engine spews a little raw gasoline out the exhaust, giving it a distinctive odor. VID 20160704 093643  Now they roll North up taxiway Bravo at KBFI, weaving L and R so the pilot can see forward. VID 20160704 094912  The takeoff - yeah! 2016-07-04-10-27-21-0911  Now it's my turn - sitting in the rear seat, which has full controls (throttle, prop, mixture, stick, pedals) except flaps & landing gear which are operated only from the front seat.
2016-07-04-10-27-31-0912  Another view of the panel. It's anacronistically incongruous to see a Garmin panel GPS in a 1945 fighter plane! The rudder pedals are just above and outboard of my feet. 2016-07-04-10-27-39-0913  The back of the pilot Rob's head. In the mirror above you can see my Lightspeed headset which I am about to don. 2016-07-04-10-30-42-0914  The view out the L side from our parking spot, before we started rolling. 2016-07-04-10-30-48-0915  The view out the R side before we started rolling.
VID 20160704 103419  Idling the engine at 700 RPM while the pilot goes through final checklist before rolling to taxi. 45 secs in, he asks if I'm ready and we start rolling. You can't hear him because it's over the headset but you can hear my response. VID 20160704 103653  We are cleared for take-off and off we go! The engine gets several times louder as the supercharger kicks in and pilot uses 50+" of manifold pressure. Once we get airborne I put away my phone and study the panel because I'm going to be manipulating the controls. VID 20160704 104938  Fortunately, we found a hole and got over the top of the thin layer for some super-fun acro! I managed to whip out the phone and get a few secs of video. I also got to manipulate the controls for a simple roll and couple of other maneuvers. Yeah, we were 91.307 compliant, wearing parachutes. The P-51C is so powerful, yet so smooth and responsive in flight, and not only fast and responsive but feels quick and agile despite its 10,000 # weight. It's absolutely incredible. The controls are neither heavy nor light, just perfect. Pitch is more sensitive than roll, yet both are amazing. The rudder inputs needed to stay coordinated seem to depend more on power and AoA than on aileron or bank angle. VID 20160704 110547  On approach to Seattle, runways 13 L & R in use. Tower had us make a spacing turn out at west point just before this. I got to do the turn, managed to hold steady 1,500' altitude turning at 45* bank at 200 mph - within PTS standards, hooah! The pilot said it was easy to take off and land too but I think he was just being modest. I could see the dance he was doing on the rudder pedals based on feedback he was getting from the plane apparently via ESP because it felt perfectly smooth the whole way. From what I've read, when landing the P-51C is a beast that will kill you as soon as blink at you. On landing approach, we did a pass down the runway then an overhead break to landing. The P-51C has a slippery 14:1 lift-drag ratio, but as soon as Rob put down the wheels & flaps that changes entirely - we were descending at over 1,000 fps at a steady 120 mph.
2016-07-03-16-22-34-0873  This is the first in a series of B-17 photos. 2016-07-04-09-09-47-0876  While viewing the B-17 I had a very interesting conversation with a man named Eldon, 93 years old, who flew the B-17 in England in 1944-45. 2016-07-04-09-09-52-0877 2016-07-04-09-27-27-0886
2016-07-04-09-27-38-0887 2016-07-04-09-27-46-0888 2016-07-04-09-27-56-0889 2016-07-04-09-38-59-0891
2016-07-04-09-39-14-0892 2016-07-04-09-39-24-0893 2016-07-04-09-39-42-0894 2016-07-04-09-41-40-0900
2016-07-04-09-55-09-0907 2016-07-04-10-15-12-0908 2016-07-04-09-53-24-0905 2016-07-04-10-15-30-0909
2016-07-04-10-15-47-0910 2016-07-04-09-39-54-0895  This is the B-24, which had the efficient Davis wing and pilots say flew like a bathtub full of sloshing water. Louis Zamperini, of "Unbroken" fame, was a bombardier in the B-24. 2016-07-04-09-40-03-0896 2016-07-04-09-40-15-0897
2016-07-04-09-40-20-0898 2016-07-04-09-40-44-0899 2016-07-04-09-27-09-0885  Now we're on to the B-25. 2016-07-04-09-52-39-0903
2016-07-04-09-52-28-0902 2016-07-04-09-51-47-0901 2016-07-04-09-53-05-0904 2016-07-04-09-54-15-0906