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P-51 Precious Metal Damaged in Ground Fire

September 9, 2015- The highly-modified North American P-51D (now P-51XR) known as Precious Metal was severely damaged in a ground fire at Marianna Municipal Airport in Marianna, Florida. The airplane was built in 1987 from a number of P-51 pieces – the fuselage came from a movie studio, the wing from a gate guard in South America – and powered by a Rolls-Royce Griffon engine swinging two contra-rotating propellers.

Owner/pilot Thom Richard described the incident in a statement on the aircraft’s Facebook page:

“The aircraft was running fine and I was taxying (sic) out of the chocks after fueling up, a gentleman came running and signaled me to shut down. I had no idea I was on fire until he alerted me as it was under the airplane. By the time I came to a stop the flames were reaching the cockpit on the left side and I abandoned ship. There was no time to attempt fighting the fire as we feared an imminent explosion with 190 gallons of fuel onboard.

The fire department showed up after about 12 minutes and took 20 minutes to put the flames out with foam. But the damage was done. The aircraft is intact, but sustained heavy damage.”

There are no indications at this point as to the cause of the fire. While Richard’s initial statement indicated that this was the “…end of Precious Metal’s air racing career,” the airplane has a long and storied history of overcoming challenges so its future is likely undecided at this point.

See more photos on Kilo Alpha Sierra Photography’s Facebook Page.

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