While many British pilots have ‘flying the Spitfire’ on their bucket list, the Mustang has been my pinup for as long as I can remember. In February 2023, I was able to experience this magnificent machine first hand with Stallion 51 in Florida.
On arrival, I was given a warm welcome by the team before being whisked off to an extensive briefing, with a peek at the hangar from an upstairs window on the way. My instructor was Marco Rusconi, Director of Flight Operations, ex-Snowbird, and all-round nice guy. The briefing covered everything from history to handling to comms. The last would come in very useful.
Briefing over, it was time to climb aboard Crazy Horse. Not easy, as it’s a long way up, the surfaces are beautifully polished, and pre-flight nerves and excitement were starting to kick in.
Securely strapped in and helmet fitted, we were pulled out of the hangar onto the ramp, where I heard Marco clearly for the last time. Once the mighty Merlin was fired up, I couldn’t hear ATC and could barely hear Marco. In the video, you will hear some confusion and see him using hand signals – this is why!
There are genuinely no words to describe the flight. One hour of pure joy and exhilaration, ducking and weaving in and out of clouds. Watch the highlights to see my smile.
Post-flight, there was a thorough debrief, Marco’s signature alongside ‘TF51’ in my logbook and wondering how and when I could possibly do this again. Syndicate, anyone?