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A Nice Story

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Someone just emailed this to me, so I don't know who is the author, but I thought that it would be enjoyed here:


This 1967 true story of an experience by a young 12 year old lad in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It is 
about the vivid memory of a privately rebuilt P-51 from WWII and its famous owner / pilot.
In the morning sun, I could not believe my eyes. There, in our little airport, sat a majestic P-51. 
They said it had flown in during the night from some U.S. Airport, on its way to an air show. The 
pilot had been tired, so he just happened to choose Kingston for his stop over. It was to take to 
the air very soon. I marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks tied down by 
her. It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from 
days gone by.
The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the pilot's lounge. He was an older 
man; his wavy hair was gray and tossed. It looked like it might have been combed, say, around the 
turn of the century. His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn - it smelled old and genuine. 
Old Glory was prominently sewn to its shoulders. He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride 
devoid of arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal  ( "Expo-67 Air Show" ) then walked 
across the tarmac.
After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check, the tall, lanky man returned to the 
flight lounge to ask if anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while he 
"flashed the old bird up, just to be safe." Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by 
with an extinguisher after brief instruction on its use -- "If you see a fire, point, then pull this 
lever!", he said.  ( I later became a firefighter, but that's another story. )
The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror from fuel fumes as the huge prop 
started to rotate. One manifold, then another, and yet another barked -- I stepped back with the 
others. In moments the Packard - built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar. Blue 
flames knifed from her manifolds with an arrogant snarl. I looked at the others' faces; there was no 
concern. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. 
We did.
Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre-flight run-up. He'd taxied to the end of 
runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several seconds. We ran to the second story deck to see 
if we could catch a glimpse of the P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not. There we 
stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down 19.
Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before. Like a furious hell spawn set loose -- 
something mighty this way was coming. "Listen to that thing!" said the controller.
In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight. It's tail was already off the runway and it was 
moving faster than anything I'd ever seen by that point on 19. Two-thirds the way down 19 the 
Mustang was airborne with her gear going up. The prop tips were supersonic. We clasped our ears as 
the Mustang climbed hellishly fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day haze. We stood for 
a few moments, in stunned silence, trying to digest what we'd just seen.
The radio controller rushed by me to the radio. "Kingston tower calling Mustang?" He looked back to 
us as he waited for an acknowledgment.
The radio crackled, "Go ahead, Kingston."
"Roger, Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear for a low level pass."
I stood in shock because the controller had just, more or less, asked the pilot to return for an 
impromptu air show!
The controller looked at us. "Well, What?" He asked. "I can't let that guy go without asking. I 
couldn't forgive myself!"
The radio crackled once again, "Kingston, do I have permission for a low level pass, east to west, 
across the field?"
"Roger, Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west pass."
"Roger, Kingston, I'm coming out of 3,000 feet, stand by." We rushed back onto the second-story 
deck, eyes fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a 
muffled screech, a distant scream. Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her airframe 
straining against positive G's and gravity. Her wing tips spilling contrails of condensed air, 
prop-tips again supersonic. The burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the field 
shredding and tearing the air. At about 500 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with 
the old American pilot saluting. Imagine. A salute!
I felt like laughing; I felt like crying; she glistened; she screamed; the building shook; my heart 
pounded. Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled, and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the 
broken clouds and indelible into my memory.
I've never wanted to be an American more than on that day! It was a time when many nations in the 
world looked to America as their big brother. A steady and even-handed beacon of security who 
navigated difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the old American pilot who'd 
just flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart, old and honest, 
projecting an aura of America at its best. 
Call it a loving reciprocal salute to a Country, and especially to that old American pilot: the late 
- JIMMY STEWART ( 1908-1997 ), Actor, real WWII Hero ( Commander of a US Army Air Force Bomber Wing 
stationed in England ), and a USAF Reserves Brigadier General, who wove a wonderfully fantastic 
memory for a young Canadian boy that's lasted a lifetime.
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Wow, what a fantastic story!  Thanks for sharing it Robert.



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Great story , and a fine way to start the day, Thanks for posting that .


Best CJ

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