Many supporters of the Flying Bulls have been asking themselves for years why specifically a Mustang was still missing from this aviation collection.
Through many contacts over the years, “Day X” finally arrived for the Flying Bulls, when it was possible to buy a P-51 Mustang. The offer came from France, where a well-maintained Mustang, known to the air-show scene for some 20 years under the nickname “Nooky Booky IV”, became available.
What was special about this Mustang, as for many other planes of the Flying Bulls, was its remarkable history. Manufactured at the end of the Second World War with serial number 44-74427, the Mustang spent some time in a U.S. Air Force production surplus depot, sharing the fate of many fighter and bomber aircraft which were simply no longer required. It was only in 1950 that the Mustang was reactivated and came into use as a fighter plane in the Royal Canadian Air Force, even though it must have been foreseeable at the time that jet aircraft would determine the future of air forces. And so, after being decommissioned by the Canadian Air Force, this Mustang too changed hands several times.
The best-known owner of this P-51 must have been ace aviator and legendary test pilot Bob Hoover, who had the plane painted lemon yellow in the early 1960s and gave it the suitable nickname “Ole Yeller” – so as to be even more eye-catching when performing his daring but legendary airshows.
After attending many of airshows the aircraft was sold in the 1970s by Hoover and went again through several hands until it came to France. The aircraft was disassembled and left in storage until it was found and purchased in 2003 by SDPA Association.
The aircraft was in good condition and the reassembling process got finished by end of
2004. The Nooky Booky took part in several airshows and was also used for movies like ‘Saint-Exupéry’ or ‘Red Tails’ and besides this was also used in TV commercials.
In early March 2021, the time had come. The Flying Bulls agreed contract terms with the previous owner and “Nooky Booky IV” made its way to Salzburg, in the livery of ace aviator Major Leonard “Kit” Carson. The air-show pilot George Perez not only brought the newly acquired jewel to Salzburg, but also a large portfolio of knowledge about the Mustang.
Arriving from France, the Mustang was welcomed by a guard of honour probably unique in European skies – the P-38 Lightning and the F4U-4 Corsair. Both accompanying craft, like the P-51 Mustang, have once been the backbone of the U.S. Air Force as well as other air forces.
Although the P-51 Mustang can still be seen quite often at air shows around the world, it is nonetheless one of the most sought-after warbirds. Even Tom Cruise presents his own P-51 in the new Top Gun film.
With an almost spiritual reputation, the Mustang was just as sought-after among nearly all fighter pilots in the 1940s. Bomber crews, whose missions depended on protection from the Mustang pilots, respectfully entitled their protectors as “little friends”. At the time, the Mustang was one of the fastest fighters and, in principle, a match for any opponent. With its long range, this aircraft was the number one choice for any complex mission.
Even today, any pilot must treat the Mustang, with its over 1,400 hp and the 12-cylinder Packard V-1650 Merlin engine under its bonnet, with respect. Although the P-51 is regarded as very reliable, every pilot must familiarize himself with the peculiarities of handling this rather complex airplane.