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Sun, May 30, 2004

CAF Mustang Down in WI

Rare CAF P-51C Lost In Accident

Update: We have just learned that the pilot in this accident, Donald Hinz, has passed away due to his injuries. ANN sends our condolences to this family and friends...

One of the most rare of P-51s, a P-51C adorned in Tuskegee Airmen livery, went down during flights for the Wings of Freedom airshow at Red Wing Municipal airport, WI, on Saturday.

The pilot survived the accident, and was listed late Saturday, in serious condition at a Twin Cities hospital, and later died due to his injuries. Saturday's show was canceled shortly thereafter though Sunday's show is scheduled to continue, as scheduled. The 60 year-old pilot, ID'ed as Donald Hinz, is reported as having communicated some kind of aircraft emergency and went down in a rural area close to housing. The impact did extensive damage to the aircraft, separating the wings from the fuselage but thankfully with no post-crash fire.

An ANN reader reported that, "The landing was not seen from the airport due to terrain, I saw the Mustang flying low, but not alarmingly so, I turned away for a few moments and when I turned back the P-51C was gone from site. Shortly after the Mustang disappeared I saw an emergency vehicle heading west at high speed with lights and sirens. At this point another Mustang which had been recovered was launched again, I assume to assist in locating the P-51C..."

The P-51C that went down was rebuilt by a Minnesota Wing of the Commemorative Air Force after the CAF acquired the badly damaged bird from a tech school. The aircraft, P-51C-5 S/N 42-103645, was originally built in 1944 at North American Aviation in Dallas, TX, and delivered to the US Army Air Corps on 7 April, 1944. It saw duty with the 341st AAF Base Unit Pinellas, Florida; the 378th AAF Base Unit, Venice, Florida; and the 339th AAF Base Unit, Thomasville, Georgia. It was surplused in October 1945 and flown to Montana State College, Bozeman Montana until it was donated the Confederate Air Force in 1970. Prior to it's rebuild, the airframe traveled to Minneapolis MN, back to Harlingen, TX, and then to the Great Planes Wing of CAF in Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1983. It eventually wound up under the care of the Minnesota Wing of the CAF. The rebuild required an entirely new set of wings and spars since the originals had literally been sawed from the aircraft at some point and welded back on to facilitate its movement. Corrosion did additional damage to the fuselage and required extensive work to bring the aircraft to flying condition. It returned to flying status in May of 2001. (P-51C Mustang photo courtesy of The Redtail Project)

Official CAF Statement: CAF P-51C Mustang Makes An Off-Airport Emergency Landing

A Commemorative Air Force (CAF) operated single-engine World War II North American P-51C Mustang, N61429, made an off-airport emergency landing at approximately 2:10 p.m. (Central Daylight Savings Time) on Saturday, May 29, 2004. The airplane was participating in the Wings of Freedom Airshow at the Red Wing Regional Airport located between Red Wing, Minn. and Bay City, Wis.

Emergency medical, law enforcement and fire crews were on site at the airport and responded immediately. The pilot of the airplane, a CAF member, was air lifted to a local hospital. The pilot’s condition is unknown at this time. The FAA is currently investigating the accident.

The airshow was cancelled for the rest of the day, however, will continue as scheduled for Sunday, May 30, 2004.

The P-51C Mustang, named “Tuskegee Airmen” after the well known Tuskegee Airmen who flew P-51Cs in World War II, is based out of Fleming Field in So. Saint Paul, Minn., and operated by the Minnesota Wing of the CAF. Manufactured by North American Aviation in Dallas, Texas, the airplane was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and is one of four P-51C models left in existence. According to CAF records the aircraft was donated to the CAF sometime during 1970. The Minnesota Wing of the CAF acquired the airplane in 1988 and completed restoration of the airplane in 2001.

The CAF has two other P-51 Mustangs in its collection. The P-51D known as “Red Nose” and the P-51D known as “Gunfighter.” The P-51 “Gunfighter” was also appearing at the airshow at the time of the accident.

The CAF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to flying and restoring World War II aircraft. Based in Midland, Texas, the organization has over 10,000 members and operates a fleet of over 150 World War II aircraft.

FMI: www.commemorativeairforce.org, www.redtail.org, http://www.cafsmw.org

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