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XP-82 Twin Mustang Makes First Flight in Decades

xp-82January 3, 2019 - On December 31, 2018, the XP-82 Twin Mustang flew for the first time since December 14, 1949. But the restored aircraft wasn’t supposed to fly that day. The original plan was to do the last FAA required runway high-speed taxi test, lift off for a second or two, touch back down, deploy full flaps, and brake to a stop. It accelerated so fast after the planned liftoff that test pilot Ray Fowler, EAA 229470, realized that getting it back down and stopping it in the remaining runway would be risky. So, he pushed the power back up and flew for about five minutes. There are virtually no photos of this flight as it was not expected to happen.

The unexpected and dramatic acceleration of the XP-82 at 55 inches of manifold pressure occurred because it was approaching three times the horsepower of a single-engine Mustang at only about 1 1/2 times the weight. The XP-82 has 1,860 hp on each side for a total of 3,720 hp — the P-51 has 1,500 hp. The XP-82 weighs 14,700 pounds compared to 9,500 pounds for the P-51.

The very short gear-down flight showed zero airframe squawks, it flew hands-off with no trim required, and all engine temperatures and pressures were normal.

“This wonderful test flight came after a 10 1/2-year restoration encompassing 207,000 labor hours,” said owner and restorer Tom Reilly, EAA 802376. “Many thanks to Ray and all of the men and women that made this restoration possible.”

The first official test flight is scheduled for the end of January. For more information, read the cover story in the August 2018 issue of Sport Aviation, and see staff photographer Connor Madison’s blog post about shooting this magnificent warbird.

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