< EOHSI Former Director Kenneth Reuhl Aims High – Literally! | EOHSI

EOHSI Former Director Kenneth Reuhl Aims High – Literally!

Posted at 10:35 am May 8, 2018, in News

Exactly one month ago, I used the gift certificate you gave me upon departing the directorship—a flight in a P-51 Mustang fighter.  This was a special gift for many reasons.  Perhaps a bit of context would be helpful.

For those of us born during the 15 years following the end of WWll, the so-called Baby Boomers, Bataan, Midway, Guadalcanal, Anzio, The Bulge, Tarawa, Okinawa, Peleliu, Arnhem, The ‘Hump’, Dachau—the list goes on–are not merely place-names in obscure geography books.  They were the collective experiences of our parents and grandparents, uncles, and members of our communities—the adults of our childhood.  Most often, these men were closed-mouthed about their war service but occasionally they would talk about the tools they used—particularly aircraft.

None inspired the imagination of my generation more than the P-51 Mustang; the premier escort fighter of the Second War.  It was the only fighter with the range to escort Allied bombers into deep Germany or to the Japanese mainland, and back, and it saved the lives of thousands of American airmen.  The P-51 exhibits a lethal, sensual esthetic that speeds a pilot’s pulse even today, and it is considered one of the most beautiful fighter aircraft ever built.  And build it we did—more than 15,000 were manufactured during the War.  Of these, only 160 are still airworthy.  Of these, fewer than 25 were modified for a second seat and dual controls, and to my knowledge, only 2 are available for instruction and orientation flights.

And therein lies my elegy for your gift, for those 2 Mustangs are owned by Stallion 51 in Kissimme, FL, and it was there I had the magical opportunity to fly the P-51D named Crazy Horse.  Stallion 51 advertises that individuals with some flight experience could be pilot-in-command for more than 95% of the flying and they were true to their word.  The check pilot turned the aircraft over to me once the gear left the ground and took control back only after we landed.  It was everything I dreamed a P-51 would be, and much more.  Boy howdy!

For those of you interested, I’d be happy to describe the flight to you in brain-damaging detail, but I will end by simply saying that this gift was an extraordinary gesture from my friends at EOHSI and RU, and one which I will never forget.  Thank you.