The Palm Springs Air Museum is currently working hard to return several of their iconic aircraft back to flying condition. One of these aircraft, North American P-51D Mustang serial 44-74908, is deep inside the restoration process. The aircraft joined the US Army Air Force in the closing months of WWII, and ended up with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951 as serial 9273 flying in the famous 402 “City of Winnipeg” Squadron. A forced landing in 1956 ended her RCAF flying days, but thankfully they stored the damaged Mustang long enough for her to pass into civil ownership in 1959. Chuck Doyle got her airworthy again in 1963 and kept the Mustang going until 1980 when the late Bob Pond acquired her. Pond was a founding sponsor of the Palm Springs Air Museum with many of his warbirds joining the museum’s stable. Sadly Pond passed away in 2007, and the Mustang is now registered to the Museum. They recently decided she needed a full restoration. She will fly in the colors of Tuskegee Airman Lt.Col. Bob Friend, who nicknamed his Mustang “Bunny”. According to a recent museum press release, Friend flew 140 combat missions in WWII, and recently celebrated his 93rd birthday at the Palm Springs Air Museum. There is a wonderful interview with Lt.Col.Friend and his experiences with the Tuskegee Airmen and the Air Force HERE.
The Mustang’s restoration will not be inexpensive, of course, and the museum is actively raising funds to support the project. Richard Cavanaugh, one of the museum’s docent’s, and a Palm Springs Air Museum business member, recently donated a significant chunk of his commission from a property sale via his real estate company Veterans Realtor. The company caters especially to helping military veterans negotiate the VA Loan process. Cavanaugh decided that for every sales commission he earns, he will donate a substantial portion to the Mustang’s restoration. It’s good to know that some of this business is contributing directly to preserving military history.
If any of our readers wishes to contribute to the Tuskegee Airmen Mustang, please click HERE to find out how. WarbirdsNews hopes to be bringing you more information about this restoration, and the other fine work that is going on at the Palm Springs Air Museum in the near future.