T51 Gallery

All photos: Keith Wilson

Gallery text:

When my Mustang moment came, I was only partially prepared. I was wearing a Nomex flight suit and a hard helmet and I wondered briefly if it was a case of ‘all the gear but no idea’. But  this was no time for doubting. I advanced the throttle smoothly, the tail lifted: The noise level and the shear number of things to remember surprised me. I even managed to forget to haul up the flaps for several minutes of rooftop buzzing slowness, causing Shobdon at least one complaint. I hit the circuit all day, constantly marvelling at the appearance of the three greens each time I lowered the undercarriage. Gradually I got the hang of it and soon needed no excuse to carve up between the gallery of clouds, where the long green nose and broad yellow arc of the prop instilled in me awe and confidence. Even my radio work showed a noticeable improvement. High up over Shobdon, I was able to fly some of the figures that Clive and Dan had experienced.

I flew through a rainbow that suddenly split and formed a circle like a vast colourful propeller arc, right round the nose of the aircraft, lasting for minutes. I was utterly elated.

Pencil to pad now. Time to focus on figures: Stalls were between 55 and 60mph, cruise seemed comfortable anywhere between 135 and 145mph.  Maximum continuous cruise was 150mph whilst maximum speed seemed to be a little over 160mph. Climb rates from ground level were up to 1500ft/minute on a cold day, zoom climbs in excess of 2250ft/minute. I gradually developed the confidence to bring the speeds down to 75mph for the shortest landings. The aircraft, in all aspects, seemed benign.

I was flying my very own creation. From where I was sitting, it took nothing to imagine that this was the real thing. And that, in all honesty, remains part of the pleasure today.

Ben Chester-Master