Stallion 51 celebrates the “Pilot Maker’s” 75th Anniversary

KISSIMMEE, FLA. (April 10, 2013) The T-6 Texan is 75 years old this year and is still a legend in the aviation world. It is referred to as the “Pilot Maker” because of all of the pilots it taught during WWII and continues to teach today the fine art of flying big engine tail wheel airplanes.  The Texan is considered the basic trainer for those who want to transition into a Mustang or other high performance warbirds. However, with over 8,500 hours in the Mustang, Lee Lauderback will be the first to say jokingly, “the P-51 Mustang is a great trainer for the T-6 Texan!”  The Mustang is easier to handle in several areas of operation, especially ground handling and crosswind situations.  The Texan has been and still is a demanding teacher, not willing to compromise on basic rules and will slap you hard with the proverbial ruler if you break them.

However there is a new Texan in town. The Texan II made by Hawker Beechcraft. But will it really replace the original Texan? Stallion 51’s founder and chief pilot, Lee Lauderback flew the new Hawker Beech AT-6 from at Stallion 51’s flight operations center in Kissimmee, Florida.

As Lee Lauderback flew the new AT-6 in formation with both Stallion 51’s T-6G and P-51, the differences and similarities were apparent. It turns out that the new Texan is closer to the performance characteristics of the Mustang than the original Texan.

Lauderback noted, “Many of the P-51 numbers are the same or similar as the new AT-6’s. Gear, flaps, rotation speeds, best climb are the same.  Weight and horsepower are similar along with wing areas. Additionally like the D-Model Mustang, visibility from the bubble glass canopy is exceptional.

The T-6 of old demands immediate and correct input during abnormal flight situations making it a strict but consistent teacher, reinforcing the rules that must never be forgotten. The new AT-6 with its contemporary engineering is a much more forgiving aircraft to fly.  The single power lever makes the AT-6 fly like a jet even though it is a turboprop.

Flying the new AT-6 in formation with Stallion’s T-6 Texan, the age difference is apparent. The WWII era T-6 looks vintage. Big round engine, curved art deco lines, zaftig structure, all give it that historic look. In the case of Stallion 51’s T-6, it does have a unique history.

Built at the end of 1944, it was eventually stationed in Hawaii after the war. It carries the nickname “THANG” because of the original Territory of Hawaii Air National Guard markings on the side-panel.

In 1957, “THANG” was purchased by Walter Dillingham, its first civilian owner. Walter Dillingham and his family are famous in Hawaii. Many streets, buildings and an Air Field on Oahu’s North Shore is named after his son, a B-29 pilot who was killed in action over Japan.

After surviving through many years and several owners, “THANG” was purchased by Stallion 51 in 2004 as a trainer for Initial Checkout, Mustang Transition Training and Orientation Flights.

In WWII, the hard earned lessons taught by the “Pilot Maker” would prepare the pilot to step into the cockpit of any front line fighter and go into battle. However except for the T-6Gs used in Korea, the T-6 was left behind when the “boys went off to war” in the fighters.  The Texan was retired from the US military in the 1950s and was used by several foreign countries in combat and training into the 1990s.   Since 1938, more than 17000 T-6 variations were built by North American Aviation, the same aircraft company that built Stallion 51’s legendary P-51 Mustangs, Crazy Horse and Crazy Horse 2.

The Texan of old is still actively sharing her cockpit with those who want to experience the “sound of big and round” from inside of a WWII warbird cockpit. Stallion 51’s T-6 Texan shares the thrill of flying a vintage WWII aircraft during their hands-on orientation flights. Stallion 51 also offers extensive check-out training for those who wish to own their own Texan or transition into a P-51 Mustang. The T-6 Texan is still every bit the  “pilot maker” even at 75 years old.

Stallion 51 Corporation is a comprehensive aviation organization offering a wide range of services in historic aircraft including orientation flights in the legendary dual cockpit, dual control P-51 Mustang, historic T-6 Texan and L-39 TurboJet.  Stallion 51 offers check-out, transition and re-currency training, FAA Medical certification, aircraft sales and management. For over 25 years, Stallion 51 has been a world leader in WWII aviation; focusing on safety and quality flight training. (407)846-4400