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Watch a P-51 Fly Formation Loops with a P-40 for a Photo Shoot

Thom Richard in the American Airpower Museum P-40 Warhawk "Jacky C" over South Florida. Photo Credit: Mike Killian

As an aviation photographer, sometimes I get to do some pretty cool assignments. As an avgeek, I’ve always wanted to fly the mighty P-51 Mustang, and last fall I was given the chance on a unique photo shoot over South Florida that was, different, from the “normal” P-51 experience.

Air race pilot and owner of Warbird Adventures, Thom Richard, pilots the American Airpower Museum’s P-40 Warhawk “Jacky C II’, and he had this vision to fly loops in formation to capture some dynamic images of Jacky C air-to-air that he wanted us to fly.

Thom Richard and Jacky C at sunset over Long Island, NY. Photo: Mike Killian

But such a formation is not possible in just any plane, I’d need something that can keep up, and the answer, was the might P-51 Mustang.

The Collings Foundation’s TP-51C Mustang “Betty Jane” to be exact, piloted by Robert Pinksten.

We departed Stuart, FL without issue, about an hour before sunset, to make use of the late afternoon light for the photography, and arrived to Homestead Air Reserve Base outside of Miami not long after, just as the sun was setting over the Everglades.

Having flown the P-40 with numerous P-51’s, my observation is that it’s superior in performance in pretty much every regard at the same power settings below 250, perhaps 280,” said Richard after the flight.

It was surprising how well the P-40 performed compared to the P-51,” he added. “It will out climb, out dive and out turn the Mustang handily. All that said, the Mustang will leave the P-40 in the dust at higher speed and altitudes.”

Thom Richard in the American Airpower Museum P-40 “Jacky C”. Photo: Mike Killian

Richard flies Jacky C at select air shows throughout the year, visit the American Airpower Museum’s Facebook page for more info.

If I went to war, I’d much rather be in the 51, but for what we do, I’ll take the Warhawk any day.”

Follow Mike Killian on Instagram and Facebook, @MikeKillianPhotography


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Mike Killian

Written by Mike Killian

Killian is an aerospace photographer and writer, with a primary focus on spaceflight and military and civilian aviation. Over the years his assignments have brought him onboard NASA's space shuttles, in clean rooms with spacecraft destined for other worlds, front row for launches of historic missions and on numerous civilian and military flight assignments.

When not working the California-native enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, storm chasing, producing time-lapses and shooting landscape and night sky imagery, as well as watching planes of course.

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