At this weekend’s “Wings Over Dallas” airshow at Dallas Executive Airport, Commemorative Air Force (CAF) P-51C “Tuskegee Airmen” will fly in public for the first time in a while, commemorating Veterans’ Day. The appearance is noteworthy in that it was just a little over a year ago that the rare razorback Mustang was extensively damaged in a Nov. 4 runway excursion accident.
CAF pilot Doug Rozendaal flew the first post-repair flight on Oct. 17, 2022, which he said was flawless. “It flies straight,” he told AVweb. “Fortunately, there was no fuselage damage, and very few of the major systems needed repair,” he said. The main work, performed by AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, Minnesota, involved the outer spar extension on the left wing (the main spar was undamaged), the left main landing gear, and the prop and engine, due to sudden stoppage. Rozendaal then flew the Mustang to John’s 360-degree Coatings in Raymond, Mississippi, to repaint the repaired areas and perform overall “touchup” work—all accomplished within 10 days. Jeffries Airworks in Brandon, Mississippi, balanced the propeller.
The CAF said the repairs could have been completed sooner but for “supply chain issues and labor shortages.” Once back in Dallas for the winter, the Red Tail Mustang, which is the centerpiece of CAF’s “Rise Above Squadron,” will spend time getting other CAF pilots requalified in the airplane for what promises to be an active 2023 airshow season.