North American P51-D
|In 1980 it had its first (I think) flight at Blackbush Airfield. Doug Arnold cleared most people away from the area although some of us were still working on aircraft in the centre of the field and had a grandstand view of the events.|
|The aircraft took off and did a couple of circuits,but as it came in to land we noticed that the starboard undercarriage had not extended completely. Frantic signals from the control tower prevented it from landing and it flew off again, returning some time later apparently with the undercarriage fully down|
|No chances were taken and a couple of passes were made when the pilot gently "bounced" the aircraft onto the runway without losing flying speed to test if the leg was locked in position.|
|Eventually it was deemed to be safe to land and the fire tender was thankfully not needed. We were all surprised to see that after the pilot got out of it, the chief mechanic also emerged. It was he who had manually wound down the undercarriage from the belly of the aircraft.|
The aircraft went on to appear in airshows around europe and by 1987 was based at Duxford. It even stared in a few films such as "Empire of the Sun". In 1988 it went over to France as F-AZFI and continued to make frequent appearances. Sadly in 1998 it crashed during take-off at an airshow at La Roche Sur Yon airport. The aircraft was destroyed and both occupants were killed.