This page is dedicated to those of you who recognize the absolute magnificence of the Mustang in the pantheon of propellor driven aircraft of any era.

      Contributions and suggestions for inclusion are welcomed. Photographs with text are solicited. Please help us pay homage to this magnificent machine.

      This particular page is being run temporarily by Charles E. Dills, a veteran of 94 missions in Italy, Corsica and Southern France. Thirty-nine of these missions were in the magnificent ground air support plane known as the A-36. It was unexcelled for dive bombing and ground attack.

"Crazy Horse"
      One of the great experiences of my life took place in 1989. I went to Orlando Florida and visited the Lauterback Brothers at the Stallion Corporation, now in Kissimmee Florida. I spent about three days there mostly waiting for the weather to let up, and for my turn in a genuine, original two place P-51. It was expensive, at that time $1250/hour. But it was certainly worth it. How many people can step back 45 years into the past at any price.

There I am, in back!

      They knew what I was there for. I was indulging a monster case of nostalgia and I was wondering if I still had it in me. They did not try to teach me anything, that's not what I was there for. Then the weather finally cleared about 3 PM and we got in. Of course the memories flowed back. I was in the rear seat, required by the insurance company because the fuel selector was in the front. But the illusion was great. The visibility was excellent and the cockpit and panel were complete.
      We took off and when we were 500 feet in the air, he said, "OK, it's yours!" What magnificent words. I started working the kinks out my shoulders weaving back forth with increasing degree of bank.

      After ten minutes or so, I said I wanted to try a barrel roll. And I did! And then I did another. Some more weaving and then I said I wanted to try a loop. He told me to get up to a certain speed which I have since forgotten and I did one.
      A loop in a P-51 is a wonderful maneuver. You don't have to haul back on the stick. It flies through it with ease and as a matter of fact, I was almost too relaxed. At the top of the loop I was below 100 mph, probably around 75 and I felt the torque starting to twist it. I corrected and came down the other side and leveled out with a wonderful feeling of euphoria. He suggested I might want to cut some grass and so to the deck we went. After a bit of fun at very low altitude, we made a pass down the Kissimmee runway and went back to Orlando International where they were based at that time.

The Hot Rock!!

      I got into the pattern and he told me the airspeeds as I rounded the pattern. I came down, and landed. When it was under control, he told me to go around again on a touch and go. I raised the flaps, put the RPM to 3000 and throttle to 61 inches and took off again. I stayed in the pattern and came around and made a second landing. I was never concious of him being on the controls and would like to think that I did everthing without help.
      He taxied back to the hangar and I got out, brimming with the thrill of my life. Then he gave me what I took to be a wonderful compliment. He said, "You have a nice feel for where the ground is!"

      If any of you can manage it, I thoroughly and happily recommend this experience to you. It really is like riding a bicycle. You really do never forget!

Check out one of the only books that tells the story of the 27th Fighter Bomber Group.

Straight Down

The story of the A-36 in combat, by Peter C. Smith.