After receiving the P-51 story:
I got this from Bobby Fisher on the 18th, and today I send it along as a message of thanks……. thanks to men who used these planes to keep us free of Nazi and Japanese enslavement, and thanks that life still offers the joys of seeing and remembering beautiful machines and the delight of seeing them fly, and flying them.
I was in the pattern at Lakefront Airport in 1962, flying out necessary solo hours in Hobley-Maynard’s 65HP Luscombe 8A, when the tower directed me to anchor on the downwind leg in 360 turns until called back into traffic. There was opposing traffic inbound. Although it seems to take forever, getting to the downwind leg in a Hobley-Wobbly Luscombe 8 doesn’t take you very far away from the runway.
I saw a Bearcat at my level, heading right down the runway centerline at what was to me an incredible speed. It was the senior Fornoff, and when he reached the approach end, the bird racked up onto a wingtip at 60 degrees of bank, cutting around in a circle as fast as you could slice a wheel of cheese. Before you could say BOB’S YOUR UNCLE, the Bearcat was on final and I was called back into the pattern.
I was greatly excited by what I had just witnessed. This was the first ‘overhead traffic pattern pitch out’, I’d ever seen – I didn’t even know what to call it. I was sure the tower was going to climb all over the pilot for shining his ass in traffic. It took me quite a few minutes of puzzlement before I concluded that somehow this nimble display of maneuverability must be allowed, and was in some way tied to planes possessing more power and speed than my 90mph Luscombe.
I relate all this just to say that the excitement of watching airplanes as related in this short vignette, is something I understand and remember.
Give thanks that all who read this likely have had a life somehow tied to aviation, and give thanks that we have made our livings around airplanes instead of following the behind-ends of two mules, down one row and up the next.