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  1. #1
    Member PWC's Avatar
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    Got this in an email this AM:

    This 1967 true story is of an experience by a young 12 year old boy in
    Kingston, Ontario, Canadaicon. It is about the vivid memory of a privately
    rebuilt P-51 from WWII and its famous owner/pilot.

    In the morning sun, I could not believe my eyes. There, in our little
    airport, sat a majestic P-51. They said it had flown in during the night
    from some U.S. Airport, on its way to an air show. The pilot had been tired,
    so he just happened to choose Kingston for his stop over. It was to take to the air very soon. I marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks tied down by her. It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from days gone by.

    The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the
    pilot's lounge. He was an older man; his wavy hair was gray and
    tossed. It looked like it might have been combed, say, around the turn
    of the century. His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn - it
    smelled old and genuine. Old Glory was prominently sewn to its
    shoulders. He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride devoid of
    arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal ("Expo-67 Air
    Show") then walked across the tarmac.

    After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check, the tall,
    lanky man returned to the flight lounge to ask if anyone would be available
    to stand by with fire extinguishers while he "flashed the old bird up, just
    to be safe." Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an
    extinguisher after brief instruction on its use -- "If you see a fire,
    point, then pull this lever!", he said. (I later became a firefighter, but that's another story.) The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror from fuel fumes as the huge prop started to rotate. One manifold, then another, and yet another barked -- I stepped back with the others. In moments the Packard -built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar. Blue flames knifed from her manifolds with an arrogant snarl. I looked at the others' faces; there was no concern. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. We did. Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre-flight run-up. He'd taxied to the end of runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several seconds. We ran to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of the P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not. There we stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down 19. Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before. Like a furious hell spawn set loose -- something mighty this way was coming. "Listen to that thing!" said the controller.

    In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight. It's tail was already
    off the runway and it was moving faster than anything I'd ever seen by that
    point on 19. Two-thirds the way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her
    gear going up. The prop tips were supersonic. We clasped our ears as the
    Mustang climbed hellishly fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the
    dog-day haze. We stood for a few moments, in stunned silence, trying to
    digest what we'd just seen.The radio controller rushed by me to the radio.
    "Kingston tower calling Mustang?" He looked back to us as he waited for an
    acknowledgment. The radio crackled, "Go ahead, Kingston." "Roger, Mustang.
    Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear for a low level
    pass." I stood in shock because the controller had just, more or less, asked
    the pilot to return for an impromptu air show! The controller looked at us.
    "Well, What?" He asked. "I can't let that guy go without asking. I couldn't
    forgive myself!"

    The radio crackled once again, "Kingston, do I have permission for a
    low level pass, east to west, across the field?" "Roger, Mustang, the
    circuit is clear for an east to west pass." "Roger, Kingston, I'm coming out
    of 3,000 feet, stand by." We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes
    fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched
    whine, a muffled screech, a distant scream. Moments later the P-51 burst
    through the haze. Her airframe straining against positive G's and gravity.
    Her wing tips spilling contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again
    supersonic. The burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the
    field shredding and tearing the air. At about 500 mph and 150 yards from
    where we stood she passed with the old American pilot saluting.. Imagine. A salute! I felt like laughing; I felt like crying; she glistened; she
    screamed; the building shook; my heart pounded. Then the old pilot pulled
    her up and rolled, and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken
    clouds and indelible into my memory.

    I've never wanted to be an American more than on that day! It was a time
    when many nations in the world looked to America as their big brother. A
    steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political
    water with grace and style; not unlike the old American pilot who'd just
    flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart,
    old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best.

    That America will return one day! I know it will! Until that time, I'll
    just send off this story. Call it a loving reciprocal salute to a Country,
    and especially to that old American pilot: the late-JIMMY STEWART
    (1908-1997), Actor, real WWII Hero (Commander of a US Army Air Force Bomber
    Wing stationed in Englandicon), and a USAF Reserves Brigadier General, who wove
    a wonderfully fantastic memory for a young Canadian boy that's lasted a
    lifetime.

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  4. #2
    Senior Member RASelkirk's Avatar
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    What a "visual" story, I could just about see it as the author did! We over-nighted in Kingston 30-odd years ago when we did our Niagara Falls - Toronto - Thousand Islands vacation...

    Russ

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  7. #3
    Contributing Member 30Three's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing that wonderful story.

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    Really Senior Member harry mac's Avatar
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