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Flight Journal Podcast - Season 1 Episode 5 - P51 D Mustang

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Quick Overview

Join us as we take to the air with Flight Journal’s editor-in-chief Budd Davisson.


P-51D Mustang 
Every pilot dreams of flying a Mustang. This iconic WW2 fighter is an amazing aircraft and it holds a special place in many pilot's hearts. When Budd Davisson finally got to scratch his Mustang itch, he went down to Paris, Texas to enlist the help of Master Instructor, Junior Burchinal who ran a flight school that teaches pilots to fly warbirds. Before Budd even got close to the Mustang, Junior had Budd strapped into an AT-6 Texan (advanced trainer) and logged 10 hours. 


The first check flight that Budd actually got in the Mustang was with him stuffed into the back section of the P-51’s single place cockpit with Junior at the controls. Budd was wedged into the space that once housed the WW2 radio gear, and he was peering over Junior’s left shoulder. There were no 2-seater Mustangs at the time, so he watched Junior put the airplane through its paces calling out the important numbers. The rest of the story goes like this.


The first thing Budd learned was that a Mustang pilot does not climb onto the plane from the trailing edge. Even though there is a step opening in the top of the flaps, there experienced Mustang driver climbs up onto the left main gear tire and gets up over the leading edge to make his way to the side of the cockpit. Once in the cockpit he noticed that the Mustang’s control layout is almost exactly the same as with the Texan, both aircraft were produced by the North American Aircraft Co.


Engine start up is standard fare, hit the primer a few times, the hit the starter button. After about four blades, light up the mags and the engine erupts with explosive sound! Very noisy with the cockpit open. The next thing to learn how the Mustang taxis. The tailwheel is steerable but you have to push the stick all the way forward to let it swivel. The Mustangs long gear provide nice ground handling but the nose is way up there and you have to do S-turns to clear the taxi way ahead of you as you make your way to the runway.


A bit of a note here, Budd at this point in his aviation career much more time than your typical WW2 pilot fresh out of pilot school. These young recruits had maybe 350 hours under their belt when they strapped in the Mustang for the first time. Regardless, Budd was very excited to be where he was.


Once you push the throttle forward, the Mustang accelerates quickly and there’s some P-Factor to deal with as the tail comes up. Instantly you have great visibility over the nose. A little more right rudder needed to keep the nose straight down the runway, the Mustang responds and behaves much better than the Texan. With the gear tucked up, it climbs at 2000 FPM and no retrim is needed. At about 10,000 feet he checked the stall speed which breaks at about 88 mph. The ailerons remain solid and responsive.


Bringing the Mustang back to the barn, Budd powered back and setup his approach. Slowing to about 170mph he lowered the nose to about 30 degrees and was very nervous about landing this heavy and EXPENSIVE airplane. So at about 115 mph with full flaps and gear down, he had great visibility all the way down. He started to lower the tail for a 3-point (which is what Junior wanted him to do), and from about 6-inches above the runway the airplane dropped in for a smooth landing and a 2000 foot runout. Taxiing back to the hangar, Budd could not help but smile, he had soloed in a P-51D Mustang! “Nuff said!

Join us as we take to the air with Flight Journal’s editor-in-chief Budd Davisson.


P-51D Mustang 
Every pilot dreams of flying a Mustang. This iconic WW2 fighter is an amazing aircraft and it holds a special place in many pilot's hearts. When Budd Davisson finally got to scratch his Mustang itch, he went down to Paris, Texas to enlist the help of Master Instructor, Junior Burchinal who ran a flight school that teaches pilots to fly warbirds. Before Budd even got close to the Mustang, Junior had Budd strapped into an AT-6 Texan (advanced trainer) and logged 10 hours. 


The first check flight that Budd actually got in the Mustang was with him stuffed into the back section of the P-51’s single place cockpit with Junior at the controls. Budd was wedged into the space that once housed the WW2 radio gear, and he was peering over Junior’s left shoulder. There were no 2-seater Mustangs at the time, so he watched Junior put the airplane through its paces calling out the important numbers. The rest of the story goes like this.


The first thing Budd learned was that a Mustang pilot does not climb onto the plane from the trailing edge. Even though there is a step opening in the top of the flaps, there experienced Mustang driver climbs up onto the left main gear tire and gets up over the leading edge to make his way to the side of the cockpit. Once in the cockpit he noticed that the Mustang’s control layout is almost exactly the same as with the Texan, both aircraft were produced by the North American Aircraft Co.


Engine start up is standard fare, hit the primer a few times, the hit the starter button. After about four blades, light up the mags and the engine erupts with explosive sound! Very noisy with the cockpit open. The next thing to learn how the Mustang taxis. The tailwheel is steerable but you have to push the stick all the way forward to let it swivel. The Mustangs long gear provide nice ground handling but the nose is way up there and you have to do S-turns to clear the taxi way ahead of you as you make your way to the runway.


A bit of a note here, Budd at this point in his aviation career much more time than your typical WW2 pilot fresh out of pilot school. These young recruits had maybe 350 hours under their belt when they strapped in the Mustang for the first time. Regardless, Budd was very excited to be where he was.


Once you push the throttle forward, the Mustang accelerates quickly and there’s some P-Factor to deal with as the tail comes up. Instantly you have great visibility over the nose. A little more right rudder needed to keep the nose straight down the runway, the Mustang responds and behaves much better than the Texan. With the gear tucked up, it climbs at 2000 FPM and no retrim is needed. At about 10,000 feet he checked the stall speed which breaks at about 88 mph. The ailerons remain solid and responsive.


Bringing the Mustang back to the barn, Budd powered back and setup his approach. Slowing to about 170mph he lowered the nose to about 30 degrees and was very nervous about landing this heavy and EXPENSIVE airplane. So at about 115 mph with full flaps and gear down, he had great visibility all the way down. He started to lower the tail for a 3-point (which is what Junior wanted him to do), and from about 6-inches above the runway the airplane dropped in for a smooth landing and a 2000 foot runout. Taxiing back to the hangar, Budd could not help but smile, he had soloed in a P-51D Mustang! “Nuff said!

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