|By Carmelo Turdo|
The Commemorative Air Force's P-51C Mustang, Tuskegee Airmen, took off from St. Louis Downtown Airport Saturday on a flight to the Washington, D.C. area to participate in this week's Arsenal of Democracy 75th World War II Victory Commemoration Flyover. The iconic Mustang represents the World War II service of the segregated black pilots and crews from the 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Red Tails after the distinguishing markings on their aircraft. These Mustang pilots proved to be so successful escorting bombers over Europe that they were often scheduled for missions, "By Request," as noted on this aircraft's nose. The P-51C model shown here served stateside as a trainer during the war, and was restored to flying condition in 2001. It has since made regular appearances at airshows and other events, and it has been featured in stories posted here on The Aero Experience.
Tuskegee Airmen will continue to be temporarily based at St. Louis Downtown Airport following its appearance in the Arsenal of Democracy flyover. The St. Louis connection developed through Paul Voorhees of Big River Aviation when the aircraft made a safe landing at St. Louis Regional Airport near Alton, IL several years ago with a hydraulic leak in a main landing gear wheel well. Voorhees, an A&P/IA mechanic with warbird experience, was called to make the repairs. During the current stay in St. Louis, Voorhees and Big River Aviation were the best choice to handle the special towing and maintenance needs of this iconic and rare P-51C model Mustang.
Our coverage begins with this look at the Mustang as it was towed out Friday evening. CAF pilot Kevin Sutterfield took the aircraft out for three patterns around the airport as a final check before his Saturday departure.