“Pecos Bill” is a name that would have been familiar to many in the 1940s. It was the name of a popular, but fictional cartoon cowboy of the old west, created by the writer Edward O’Reilly in the 1920s. Supposedly raised by coyotes, the famous cowboy hailed from Pecos, Texas, hence his name. It was the sort of moniker that could easily translate to a young pilot and his steed in wartime, especially if that steed was a P-51D Mustang.
“Pecos Bill” is indeed celebrated today on the side of P-51D Mustang 44-74445 that many will have seen on the air show circuit. Owned by Cowden Ward since 2012, the Mustang is on a new mission; honoring the Greatest Generation. Not satisfied with simply flying the Mustang in front of audiences across the USA, Cowden Ward has made it his goal to give a last Mustang ride, free of charge, to one hundred WWII veterans over the next year. None of this is inexpensive of course, as direct costs amount to nearly $1000 for each 20 minute ride. And that is where you, our readers, may be able to help.
“Pecos Bill” operates under the umbrella organization Freedom Flyers, a multifaceted registered charity which through their outreach programs also helps to inspire American youth on the merits of science and mathematics, and to provide free airborne transportation to medical patients in need. Freedom Flyers is indeed an organization worthy of our support. Please visit their website to learn more, and find out ways you might be able to contribute.
“Pecos Bill” is scheduled to visit the following locations in 2014. Please be sure to check ahead to see whether veteran flights will be offered, and how to register.
22-23 Feb – Air Fiesta 2014 – Brownsville South Padre Island Airport, TX, USAlink
29-30 Mar – Wings Over South Texas, NAS Kingsville, TX, USAlink