Preserving the Legacy of Vintage Fighter Aircraft and the Heroes Who Flew Them
The mission of The Gathering Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, is to “assist in preserving the legacy of the remaining vintage fighter aircraft throughout the world by sustaining their history and contribution to aviation.” Although the Foundation was formed in 2007, the concept was actually born from an event held in Kissimmee, Florida in 1999 called “The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends.”
The 1999 Gathering started out as a small instructional and information-sharing seminar for P-51 pilots, past and present. With little more than word-of-mouth marketing, thousands of people came to the Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Florida to watch the 65 Mustangs start up and take off on their training sorties during the day. While the Mustangs were out flying, the crowd would listen to the 12 “Legends” that attended “hangar fly,” telling about their experiences in the cockpit of the P-51.
The unexpected success of The Gathering in 1999 fueled interest in doing it again, but this time, allowing aviation enthusiasts across the world a chance to watch, enjoy and appreciate the significance of vintage fighter aircraft and the Legends who flew and maintained them in the name of freedom.
As a result of this interest, The Gathering Foundation, Inc. was formed to help plan “The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends, The Final Roundup.” After an extensive location search, Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, was selected as the site for the September 27-30, 2007 event.
“The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends, The Final Roundup” was a magnificent event, attracting 150,000 plus visitors over four days. 77 Mustangs, 49 Legends and over 100 additional aircraft either flew or were on display. Some dubbed the event a “Warbird Woodstock” and it continues to be acknowledged as one of the “greatest airshows of all time” by aviation enthusiasts across the world.
Proceeds from “The Final Roundup” were used to help forward the mission of The Gathering Foundation, which continues to gather valuable information on historical aircraft, as well as the Legends who flew or maintained them. Recently, The Foundation produced a 260-page, hardbound, “coffee table” book of the 2007 event that is filled with vivid photos and memories. The book has received high praise from purchasers and reviewers, and sales are strong.
The Gathering Foundation (TGF) is a 501c3 organization. TGF’s mission is to support the archival collection and exchange of information as it pertains to vintage fighter aircraft, as well as the brave men and women who flew and serviced these aircraft in wartime. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of TGF merchandise support the organization’s mission.