My P-51 Mustang Ride in   

"American Beauty"

 

Think back. . . . . . . . . . 

It's 1944 and the skies are filled with B-17s and B-25s.

Your job is to escort them and keep them from harm.

The German Luftwaffe is bent on keeping the allied bombers 

from invading their home territories and your lives are on 

the line. The allied forces are counting on you!

Of course, I would be dressed a little different!!

 

 

I discovered on June 16th in the year 2002, there was an air show at the Olympia Airport.  It was called the "Gathering of Warbirds" and it was hosted by the Olympic Air Museum.  I kept seeing a P-51 Mustang flying around and I knew they were taking people for rides.  Of course, I had to check it out.  It would be a dream come true to ride in a P-51. When I arrive at the airport, I was able to stroll out to look at the warbirds.  Among them was "American Beauty".  It is a beautifully restored P-51 Mustang and it belongs to the Olympic Flight Museum.  You can check out their website at http://www.olympicflightmuseum.com/

 

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I checked with the museum staff to arrange my ride in the American Beauty.  They signed me up as a member of the museum and put me on the waiting list.  A couple of hours later, the pilot (Bud Granley) and I were taking to the air. Unfortunately, I got so caught up in the excitement, I forgot to snap photos from the cockpit while in flight.  I can at least describe the flight.  The Bud took me through some nice maneuvers.  The takeoff was awesome.  When you see the plane taking off, it does not seem like it is very fast.  When I was in it, and   Bud poured to coals to it, I was really pushed back in the seat like being in a dragster.  At 1490 horsepower, that Packard Merlin engine really turns it up. We did 2 barrel rolls, some wingovers, some dives and some high "G" turns.  It was an incredible flight and I will never forget it.  Here are some before and after flight photos.

 

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After returning from the flight, Bud and I got our picture taken together while the ground crew was preparing the next lucky rider.  He is an excellent pilot and is a very nice gentleman.

 

 

Man What A Memory ! ! !

                                             

 

Here is a little background on Pilot, Bud Granley.

 Flying has been a major part of Bud's life since he was 9 years old.  He and his brothers were outside playing, when they saw a Tiger Moth biplane glide to a landing on their uncle's farm. They ran to see the airplane, and were amazed to find that the pilot was their father. He had secretly earned his flying license.  Bud and his two brothers were hooked on aviation after that. Their father made a career of flying, and saw his three children begin their lives in aviation. Bud joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1956 after earning his wings with a Royal Canadian Air Cadet scholarship.  He was awarded honor scrolls at both basic, and advanced flying schools.  He flew the F-86 Sabre in Baden-Baden, Germany, and was a member of the Canadian gunnery team which won the NATO competition for the third  straight year. Bud then instructed on the T-6 Harvard at Red Deer Alberta. He was selected to be the  base solo demonstration pilot on the Harvard, thus starting his career as an airshow pilot. A civilian who had purchased a World War 11 surplus P-40 for $150 asked Bud to fly his plane at local airshows. This was Bud's introduction to WW2 type aircraft, which he still flies. Bud became an A-1 instructor, and served in Standards flight and as base instrument check pilot. Bud lives in Bellevue Washington.  He flew for United Airlines until retiring in 1997.   He  has six children.  Three of them served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Two flew with the Snowbird aerobatic team, and are now airline pilots, Ross with United, and Chris at  Air Canada. His daughter Deb flies for Alaska Airlines.  Bob served in the navy and also has a Commercial pilot rating.  The T-6/Harvard, Yak-55/52, or the Fouga Magister are the usual airshow planes, but you may see Bud in a classic warbird like the Spitfire, or P-51. He'll be racing around the pylons at the Reno air races in a T-6 named Lickety Split. He raced the Miss America P-51 for several years. You can also visit him where he really has fun flying the Olympic Flight Museum's warbirds. The museum is located at Olympia, WA and houses a P-51, Corsair, Skyraider, Zero, Avenger and  Wildcat.

         

 

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