As many of our readers will be well be aware, we have been following the restoration of Texas Flying Legends Museum’s North American P-51C Mustang at AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota for some time now. We received the marvelous news of her completion and first flight last week, and thought you would like to see the photo-essay of that momentous moment put together by AirCorps Aviation’s Chuck Cravens. This will of course be followed up by an in-depth feature on the restoration with superlative air-to-air photographs from Scott Slocum in our sister publication, Warbird Digest. So without further ado…
Texas Flying Legends Museum’s Lope’s Hope 3rd Takes to the Air.
By Chuck Cravens
On Monday October 16, 2017, P-51C Lope’s Hope 3rd flew for the first time since 1946. The flight took place in Bemidji, Minnesota after an intensive three- year restoration by AirCorps Aviation. This is the third, highly authentic Mustang restoration that AirCorps has completed since 2011.
This restoration is based upon P-51C 43-24907, whereas the original Lope’s Hope 3rd was 42-103585. Texas Flying Legends Museum chose to restore this Mustang in First Lieutenant Donald S. Lopez’s color scheme to honor his service in WWII, as a post WWII test pilot in the early jets, and his contributions to the aviation community as Deputy Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
Many thanks indeed to Chuck Cravens, AirCorps Aviation and the Texas Flying Legends Museum for providing us this fabulous update, as well as to the photographers, John LaTourelle and Randy Ruttger, for providing such beautiful images. We wish Lopes Hope 3rd much success in the skies, and look forwards to seeing her on the air show circuit in the near future!
And of course… stay tuned for a full article about this beautiful aircraft in an upcoming issue of Warbird Digest!