Learn a New Language……..By Stallion 51’s Chief Pilot-Lee Lauderback
Listen up; your Mustang is talking to you! Learning a new language is a challenging process and understanding the sometimes-subtle whispers of your aircraft is very similar. Say you go to Russia and sit down at a café; can you understand what is being said? When the waitress walks up, you might assume she is asking what you would like to order, but are you sure? You may starve before it all gets figured out.
However, take the time to learn Russian and you know everything said within earshot and can order the fine wine easily. This is very similar to understanding what your Mustang is trying to tell you.
Years ago, I created a patch………”Mustang Spoken Here!”
Yes, the P-51 Mustang will talk to you; you just need to understand what it is trying to say. So, how does one learn this “Mustang” language? Just like any other foreign language, you need to learn the basics (Initial Training), then begin to use the language and learn the more advanced structure (Re-current Training) and then speak the language as much a possible (Proficiency).
If the engine quits in your aircraft, you no-doubt know what it’s telling you and no-doubt have a few phrases that can be understood in any language! But what about that slight intermittent engine vibration that comes and goes? Is it mechanical or ignition; is it a fowled plug or a bad harness? Is it a mag or possibly bad points? You need to be fluent in “Mustang” to have the answers.
A friend recently brought his P-51 back early from a flight because it was, “just not running right”: certainly the prudent thing to do. The maintenance guy’s found a gear in the right magneto almost toothless. Good find! The pilot later stated that his Mustang had been talking to him on the last several run-ups, however he was not listening……Listen up!
The Mustang is very talkative when it comes to in-flight aerodynamics. It whispers little hints of airflow separation, where you are in relation to Max C of L and raises its voice just before a stall. Yes, the feels and sounds are subtle but if you speak “Mustang”, they are easily understood.
The Mustang normally will give you all kinds of hints and suggestions when it is not happy, except when it runs out of gas. It’s like a light switch, it’s either on or it’s off; no real warning except fuel pressure fluctuations, but once again your aircraft is talking to you. Listen up!