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Senior Airman
Oct 18, 2006
Greetings to all - my name is Tom and I was born into a flying family. My Father flew Wildcats and Hellcats in the Pacific, I found my way to Pensacola in 1974, and my son just started his flight training there after graduating from the Naval Academy class of '06. Dad bought and sold airplanes most of his life, and on many occasions he would come home in a warbird, back when they were still affordable. His last was a Cavalier P-51 which he sold in 1969 for under $20,000...A pretty good price then. In 1973, I bought my first warbird, a B-25J-32, Hayes modified to TB-25N. I was 19 and it was too much for a college kid to feed, but it is still flying in Galveston at the Texas Historic Aviation Museum. Having raised a son and a daughter (she is Navy, too) I have a lot more time and am drifting back to what I loved best before they brightened my life for so many wonderful years. And that's why I am here. My path crossed a lot of wonderful airmen whose shadows I am not qualified to stand in. Maybe I will share some of those stories in the near future! My very best to you all.
Is that great or what? Isn't the Cavalier P-51 the insurgent version that was developed in the 60s with SEA in mind? Effectively they bought the type design, made some modifications and intended to sell it in the anti insurgency role?
Listen, what killed me years later when I talked to Dad about the P-51 was that he said he'd have given it to me if he had known I liked it so much!!!
It was a "civilianized" Mustang with a jump seat and updated avionics - I think that was Cavalier's back-up business plan to their counter-insurgent model. I was allowed to to start it and taxi, but not fly it, which is probably why I am still alive today...Hit the starter, primer, count 8 blades and then switch on. That's all Dad ever told me about it, expecting I would figure the rest out. I think I was 17 at the time.
How cool is that. Your dad collects warbirds, lets you goof off in them, and would give them to you if you asked.

Sad ending to that story though. I guess we never know how good we've got it until its gone.

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