The Erickson Aircraft Collection has just announced that they will be transporting their beautifully restored ‘P-51 Mustang’ to Oahu, Hawaii. They will be offering flight experiences in this magnificent WWII fighter aircraft over the island paradise beginning in March this year.
This Mustang has been in Jack Erickson’s collection since the early 1980s, and is actually a CA-17, an Australian-built version of the famous WWII North American Aviation P-51D fighter assembled at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s factory in Fisherman’s Bend near Melbourne, Victoria.
The aircraft joined the Royal Australian Air Force in December, 1945 and flew for less than two years before becoming a ground instructional airframe in mid 1947. It served in this role for the rest of its military career. The RAAF sold her on in 1954 to Fawcett Aviation/Illawarra Flying School where she took up target towing operations, registered as VH-BOY. She earned her keep at this facility until the fall of 1979 when the British collector, Doug Arnold, acquired her. However, Arnold could not get an export permit. Oddly though, within a few months, an American named Gordon Plaskett did successfully import the fighter to his facility in King City, California. The Mustang soon passed on to the legendary air racing pilot Bill ‘Tiger’ Destefani, and he sold her to the Erickson Aircraft Collection in 1983, and she has been with them ever since.
In their recent press announcement, the Erickson Aircraft Collection displayed well-earned pride for this aircraft. General Manager Mike Oliver noted that, “The P-51 is undoubtedly one of the most historically significant fighter aircraft of World War II. The aircraft’s clean design gave it unparalleled range, allowing it to escort American bombers deep into German territory and, later, over Imperial Japan. It also had the speed and agility to overcome nearly every foe in a dogfight. Some say that the P-51 was the decisive factor for the U.S. in the battle for air superiority.”
It will be a complex and time-consuming process to ship the warbird to Hawaii, but Oliver says it will be well worthwhile, “We anticipate intense interest in this airplane and these flights by WWII aircraft fans worldwide. The attraction of flying in this magnificent aircraft over Pearl Harbor cannot be overstated.” They plan to offer both 15-minute and 30-minute flight experience tours in the Mustang. While there are a number of vintage WWII aircraft at museums in Hawaii, it is rare to see them flying over the state.
Regarding aviation museum’s in Hawaii, Mike Oliver noted that the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, “… is quite pleased with this unique adventure. The aircraft dovetails nicely with the Museum’s mission to honor the men and women of that era who fought for our country. We are delighted to be able to bring this piece of history to Honolulu for future generations to enjoy.”
The aircraft is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu in early March. The first Mustang rides are scheduled to be offered in late March or early April. Interested parties are encouraged to log on to www.WingsOverPearl.com.