Thunder Of Mustangs -- The Ones With Guns

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Of all the warbirds that appear every year at AirVenture, a perennial favorite is the North American P-51 Mustang, examples of which arrive at OSH in the dozens each July. But that's a pale shadow of a gathering of P-51s planned for September 2007 at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. "Gathering of Mustangs and Legends" is next year expected to attract at least 100 of the famed World War II fighters. As important as the airplanes may be, however, it's the guys who flew them -- the legends -- who are more interesting. GML 2007 says of the 1279 aces in World War II, 274 were Mustang pilots. Sadly, only about 80 of those pilots are still living and GML 2007 hopes to get as many of them as possible to the Columbus event, which will take place at an airport with a rich World War II history. Many of the B-17 crews the Mustangs escorted into Germany were trained in Columbus, then known as Lockbourne Army Air Base. Post-war, Lockbourne served as the home of the 332nd Fighter Wing, the famed Red Tail Mustangs flown by graduates of the Tuskegee training program. The base remained a Strategic Air Command facility until its closure in 1980, after which it was renamed for Eddie Rickenbacker, the highest-scoring American ace of World War I. The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends will take place between Sept. 27 and Sept. 30, 2007. For more information, contact Angela West at www.Stallion51.com and see the airport's press release, here.