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Gathering Of Mustangs And Legends An Event To Remember

Steve Fossett

October 4, 2007 — An estimated 150,000 warbird enthusiasts from throughout the country reveled in the great airplanes from World War II last weekend as the eagerly anticipated "Gathering of Mustangs and Legends - The Final Round-Up" took place at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. Some 75 P-51 Mustangs participated, along with an awesome variety of classic aircraft from that era, including P-38s, P-40s, P-47s, a rare P-63, a pair of B-17s, two B-25s, an Avro Lancaster, and a C-47.

Also on hand was the U.S. Air Force, which made the event one of its official 60th Anniversary appearances this year. Special ground and aerial displays included the Thunderbirds, F-22 Raptor, F-15, F-16, A-10, C-5, C-17, KC-135, and other aircraft.

The focus of the event, however, went beyond the hardware. Dozens of WW-II veterans also appeared, including fighter aces who flew P-51s, WASPs (Women Air Service Pilots), Tuskegee Airmen, bomber pilots and crew, and ground personnel. Throughout the weekend these great veterans shared their world-changing experiences with enormous crowds.

Numerous EAA and EAA Warbirds of America (WOA) members stepped up to lend their volunteer support for the event. They included several from the EAA AirVenture flight line crew, helping safely move the aircraft around the ramp at Rickenbacker.

WOA President Rick Siegfried and Executive Director Bill Fischer manned the membership tent, providing information and support for hundreds of current members as well as recruiting a number of new ones.

"The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends was a great way for our members to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime aviation opportunity - either as a pilot or volunteer," Fischer said. "They all worked very hard to make sure the event was a tremendous success."

Mustang pilots and owners were busy each day, flying photo missions, air show routines, and interacting with the crowds. WOA members Bill and Scott Yoak of Lewisburg, West Virginia, provided a rare opportunity for hundreds of visitors to sit in the cockpit of their P-51, "Quick Silver." Bill noted that by the end of the weekend he had lost most of his voice!

Daily air show activities included Mustang fly-bys, F-22 demonstration flights, the Thunderbirds, and several different Heritage Flight combinations. Crowds were also awestruck by the simulated bombing and strafing runs, capped off by pyrotechnics from Rich's Incredible Pyro Company, whose Sunday wall of flame shot measured a reported 3,000 feet. Several aerobatic acts added to the aerial display.

EAA and WOA congratulate event sponsor Stallion 51, the Rickenbacker International Airport staff, and all the volunteers and supporters who made The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends an event for the ages.

Look for complete coverage in upcoming issues of Sport Aviation and Warbirds magazines.

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