Over a year ago the Missus and Grouch kids banded together to buy me a rear seat ride in a P-51 Mustang WW2 fighter for my 62nd birthday. I was so excited and greatful!
I called the airfield to arrange the ride only to find out the engine had crapped out on the plane. I was told it was going to be a couple of months before the plane would be ready for flight. A couple of months turned into a year and it still wasn't ready. I wanted to take a ride before fate intervened in some manner and I missed out on a ride altogher so I opted for plan B: A ride in a T-6 Texan WW2 advanced trainer.
We see T-6s overhead at Grouch estates frequently. There are some that fly out of Van Nuys and others come from airfields around Los Angeles. It is a popular warbird with so many made during WW2 and so many surviving to this day. Some T-6s flew in military service outside the U.S. until the 80s. South Africa flew large numbers as advanced pilot trainers until then and may have been the last government to do so.
|SAAF high-jinks in a T-6, 1964|
I picked my birthday weekend as the time for my ride. It happened to correspond with the arrival of one of two operable B-29s 'Fifi', as well as a host of other WW2 aircraft. I was in heaven!
I met my pilot who is a corporate pilot in his day job and flies for the CAF - Camarillo on the weekends. A great guy, full of personality and fun stories.
It was time for the ride!
During the ride the pilot let me do some gentle turns. He rolled the plane twice and then we did some low level flying along a ridge. What a blast!
|'My' T-6 waiting for me with Fifi taxing past|
|Meeting the pilot|
|Getting in wasn't easy. Imagine getting in with a flying suit and seat parachute dangling beneath your butt!|
|The pilot telling me not to jump out of the airplane if the engine quits.|
|Ready to go!|
|Time to come back|
|I had a blast!|