Flying a P-51 Mustang is the dream of many pilots. Owning a Mustang, according to businessman and pilot Andrew McKenna, is a way of honoring those who flew them.
At SUN ‘n FUN this year, McKenna was flying the USAF Heritage Flight in his P-51 Mustang in formation with the F-16 Viper and an A-10 Warthog. He is one of the newest members of the Heritage Flight team.
This year also marks the 30th anniversary of Stallion 51, a training facility for flying P-51 Mustangs.
McKenna is one of the 200 graduates of Stallion 51’s comprehensive check-out training program.Instructor John Posson of Stallion 51 noted McKenna “came up the right way, transitioning from a T-6. He never got ahead of himself. That shows judgment. After he trained with us, he takes annual recurrent training. He sees the value of recurrent training, which makes him a great student.”
McKenna, who maintains his P-51 (N473420) in the original stock paint scheme, hasn’t given the plane a name. He keeps the aircraft plain for a reason.
He lives near Arlington National Cemetery, so he was asked to do a flyover to honor USAF Lt. Col. Edward Carl “EC” Hoagland. Because his aircraft was plain, he applied temporary nose art to match the nose art on the plane Hoagland flew. He has performed other flyovers to honor fallen World War II pilots.
“I’ve been very fortunate in business and it feels good to give something back,” he said. “Look at the other Mustang owners and I know they do the same.”
Like other warbird owners, McKenna considers himself a “keeper of the keys” of the P-51 Mustang and a North American AT-6G Texan. He has over 700 hours in World War II aircraft.
His P-51 was first owned by the U.S. Army Air Corps and was not used in combat. The third civilian owner of it was Allied Fighters, in Chino, California.
“Allied Fighters did a restoration in 2007 and I bought it in 2013,” McKenna said. “I modified it by making it IFR capable by adding a GTN-750 to the panel.”
When flying to airshows and events he said, “I show up at an airport to refuel and a crowd gathers. Nobody cares who I am. They all want to talk about the plane. It’s fun to roll into an airport like Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and everyone clears out of the restaurant to see the plane. It’s all about the plane.”