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August 8, 2017

A Couple of Old Horses

article photo

Lee started flying airplanes at 14 years old
in an old Schweizer 2-22 in DeLand, Florida.
At that very airport, Kissimmee, just across the
taxiway from where he obtained his pilot certificate
in 1966, is the home of Stallion 51. Lee
believes that what he and his team do at
Stallion 51 is very important: allowing the next
generation and possibly the generation after
that to not only operate these historic treasures
but to do it in a well-trained environment.
“I really don’t want these to end up in a
museum somewhere, as a stuffed animal,
but actually out flying and operational,”
said Lee. “This will allow the new generation
of kids, you might say, to not only just
read about them in a history book, but actually
see them and help them understand
their importance to history. I’d like to think
that we make a major contribution to keeping
the airplanes operated professionally,
safety along with good training, good maintenance,
and projecting that forward so
that when I retire, it’s going to continue.
That’s very, very important to me. I think
the airplane just has a magnetism that’ll
never go away, but if it’s in a museum, it
will lose its romance.”
Another one of the privileges Lee has had in
his life along with flying airplanes like the P-51
was meeting and having a chance to fly with
some of the icons that were the “Top Guns” of
their day — R.A. “Bob” Hoover, C.E. “Bud”
Anderson, and Robin Olds, to name just a few.
“Some of the most memorable times I had
in the Mustang were with Bob Hoover,” Lee
said. “Him in the front, me in the back, and
vice versa, and doing a full range of maneuvers
in the P-51. Same thing with Robin Olds.
Robin hadn’t flown a P-51 Mustang in 25 or 30
years, and I got to requalify him in our TF,
dual cockpit, dual-controlled airplane Crazy
Horse. It was like riding a bicycle for him.
Now as I look back, Robin’s gone and Bob
Hoover’s gone. I am extremely humbled that I
had a chance to share in their lives and share
the Mustang with those guys one last time.
“I get to fly the Mustang for fun in a
sense and for training, but I haven’t had
anyone yet, at least I’m aware of, take a shot
at me. Those guys were flying these airplanes
in combat, so when they got to come
to Stallion 51, they were in a relaxed atmosphere
and were able to go have fun with a
P-51 Mustang.”

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