(Honolulu) – The P-51 Mustang brought to Oahu last year is now set to fly guests over Pearl Harbor and Oahu WWII battle sites. The Mustang project was derailed immediately following its arrival in Hawaii last year by Covid and the lockdown, “We could not have picked a worse time to launch this effort,” said Jim Martinelli, director of maintenance for the Erickson Aircraft Collection of Madras, Oregon, owners of the airplane. “We’re were ready to go last March and had booked reservations, only to be laid low by the pandemic.”
The P-51 spent the lockdown year in a hangar at Daniel Inouye International Airport and is meticulously prepared for its modern-day mission. The aircraft is expected to take its first guests on flights over Oahu by the end of the month.
Martinelli says there has been a great deal of interest expressed in the aircraft’s presence in Hawaii, “We’ve gotten calls and emails from all over asking about the P-51 rides. Everyone, it seems, knows about the Mustang…there’s something about this aircraft that strikes a chord in the hearts of aviation fans everywhere.”
There are two basic tour flights available that overfly sites on Oahu with significant WWII connections. The shorter of the two tours encompasses Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Army Airfield and the location of the former Haleiwa Fighter Strip. The longer flight flies over Bellows, Kaneohe Bay, the Opana Radar site at Turtle Bay, Haleiwa, Wheeler and Pearl Harbor.
Arguably the best American fighter aircraft of WWII, the Mustang is part of the Erickson Aircraft Collection. Jack Erickson, the founder of Erickson Aviation, began collecting warbirds in 1980. The Erickson Aircraft Collection today consists of about 30 mostly WWII era airplanes. The planes are regularly flown and often participate in airshows around the country.
The P-51 that will fly over Oahu spent the last several years on the air show circuit providing rides for people across the country. The Mustang, which operates under name company name Wings Over Pearl, is different from the aircraft that usually fly over the island, “The V-12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine has a sound unique in aviation. People will definitely recognize this as something special in the air,” said Martinelli.
For more information about Wings Over Pearl please visit https://wingsoverpearl.com or call (808) 469-1937.
Photo Credit P. J. O’Reilley