A few Sundays ago, I had the rare opportunity to fly a P-51D Mustang. This was a former one-seater, with the radio gear and extra fuel tank removed, a sliding pilot's seat added, and a second seat, rudder pedals, altimeter, airspeed indicator and throttle installed. And, oh yeah, a second stick!
The old Confederate Air Force (now, regrettably, the politically-correct Commemorative Air Force, www.commemorativeairforce.com) goes around to air shows with the aircraft. It is property of the Dixie Wing, http://dixiewing.org/aircraft/p51/index.htm and flights are $895 for 20 minutes.
Well, they SAY it is 20 minutes. For me, because of traffic and a bad tower controller, we stayed in the air for 35 minutes. And the best part came before we taxied down the tarmac, when the CAF attendant said, "You want the stick?"
"The stick?" I asked, barely able to contain my breath. "Here ya go," and he handed me a piece of tubing with a bicycle grip at the top. The ground crew strapped me into my 'chute, helped me fasten my straps, and off we went! Stan, my pilot, gave me the stick over lake jackson, and I flew from there to Killearn Estates, circled Killearn twice, and then I flew to the mouth of the St. Marks River. He took back the controls and we did some aerobatic maneuvers, then Stan allowed me to fly back toward the airport. When we made visual with the runway, he took over for good.
It was truly the most fun I have ever had with my clothes on! I distinctly recall holding the aircraft, waggling the wings "hello," and saying to myself, "I am flying a P-51 Mustang!"
God, what a rush! And thanks be to God for allowing this wonderful experience to happen.