The following article was forwarded by Forrest Fenn. Great story... Thanks, Forrest.

 
Old aviators and old airplanes never die... they just fly off into eternity(author unknown).
  
This is a good story about the vivid memory of a P-51 and its pilot by a fellow when he was 12 years old in Canada in 1967.
  
It was noon on a Sunday as I recall, the day a Mustang P-51 was to take to the air. They said it had flown in during the night from some US airport, the pilot had been tired so landed here for the night.
  
I marveled at the size of the plane dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks  tied down by her. It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from days gone by.
  
The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, then stepped into the  flight lounge. He was an older man, his wavy hair was gray and tossed . . . looked like it  might have been combed,  . . . . . say, around the turn of the century. His flight jacket was checked, creased, and  worn - it smelled old and genuine. Old Glory was prominently sewn to  its shoulders. He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride devoid of arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal (Expo-67, Air Show) 
then walked across the  tarmac.
  
After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check the  pilot returned to the flight lounge to ask if anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while he "flashed the old bird up . . . just to be safe." Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an extinguisher after brief instruction on  its use -- "If you see a fire, point, then pull this lever!" I later became a firefighter, but that's another story.
  
The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror from  fuel fumes as the huge prop started to rotate. One manifold, then another, and yet another  barked -- I stepped back with the others. In moments the Packard-built V-12 Merlin engine came to life with a  thunderous roar, blue flames knifed from her manifolds. I looked at  the others' faces, there was no concern. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. We did.
  
Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre flight  run-up. He'd taxied to the end of runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several  seconds, we raced from the  lounge to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of  the old P-51 as she  started down the runway. We could not. There we stood, eyes fixed to  a spot half way down 19. Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before, like a furious hell  spawn set loose---something mighty this way was coming!
  
"Listen to that thing!" Said the controller. In seconds the Mustang  burst into our line of sight. Its tail was already off and it was moving faster than anything I'd ever seen by that point on 19. Two thirds the way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her gear going  up. The prop tips were supersonic; we clasped our ears as the Mustang  climbed hellish fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day haze.
  
We stood for a few moments in stunned silence trying to digest what  we'd just seen. The  radio controller rushed by me to the radio. "Kingston tower calling Mustang?" He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgment. The radio crackled, "Go ahead Kingston."
  
"Roger Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is  clear for a low level  pass." I stood in shock because the controller had, more or less, just asked the pilot to return for an impromptu air show!
  
The controller looked at us. "What?" He asked. "I can't let that guy  go without asking . .  . . I couldn't forgive myself!" The radio crackled once again, "Kingston, do I have  permission for a low level pass, east to west, across the field?"
  
"Roger Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west pass." 
"Roger, Kingston, I'm coming out of 3000 feet, stand by." We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes now fixed toward the eastern  haze.
  
The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a muffled  screech, a distant scream. Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her valiant old airframe straining against positive Gs and gravity, wing tips spilling contrails of condensed  air, prop-tips again supersonic as the burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of  the field shredding and tearing the air.
  
At about 400 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with an old American pilot  saluting ...... imagine ....a salute to us Canadians! I felt like  laughing, I felt like  crying, she glistened, she screamed, the building shook, my heart  pounded . . . then the  old pilot pulled her up . . . . and rolled, and rolled, and rolled  out of sight into the  broken clouds .....and indelibly into my memory.
  
 I've never wanted to be an American more than on that day. It was a  time when many nations in the world looked to America as their big brother, a steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the pilot who'd just flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart,  old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best. That  America will return one  day, I know it will.
  
Until that time, I'll just send off a story; call it a reciprocal  salute, to the old  American pilot who wove a memory for a young Canadian that's stayed a  lifetime!

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