[Editor’s Note: We are grateful to hear Bill walked away from this crash unscathed. It’s also very nice to hear the Commemorative Air Force plans to restore the airplane and return her to airworthy condition! The CAF “Red Tails” Squadron does a fantastic job of educating the public and carrying on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, so here’s hoping the repair and restoration work goes both quickly and smoothly!]
The pilot of a World War II-era P-51C Mustang is OK after making an emergency belly landing at Dallas Executive Airport Wednesday morning.
Dallas-Fire Rescue confirms the plane landed at about 10:30 a.m. with its landing gear retracted. The plane apparently skidded off the runway and onto a grassy area where the prop detached from the plane’s body.
The P-51 is a single-seat fighter and was being piloted by Bill Shepard, who was not injured in the emergency landing.
Shepard was landing back at Dallas Executive for a special event in honor of Black History Month when the emergency occurred, according to the Commemorative Air Force, who owns the plane and is based out of the South Dallas airfield.
“Earlier today, the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s P-51C experienced a gear-up landing at Dallas Executive Airport,” said Stephan C. Brown, president and CEO of the CAF. “Pilot and Squadron Leader Bill Shepard was uninjured. The aircraft sustained substantial damage, but we will start the restoration process shortly. As with the Tuskegee Airmen she honors, this airplane will ‘Rise Above’ to ‘Triumph Over Adversity’ and fly again. We appreciate the many messages of concern received today.”
Records obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration indicate the aircraft was built in 1942 and that the owner is the American Air Power Heritage Flying Museum, the former name of the CAF.
The P-51C was donated to the CAF in 1988 and was restored as a Red Tail over a period of several years. It was christened the Tuskegee Airmen and returned to the skies in 2001. In 2004 the plane suffered an engine failure and crashed, killing pilot Don Hinz, according to the CAF’s online documentation of the aircraft. Following the fatal crash the aircraft was once again “restored rivet by rivet” before flying again in 2009.
CAF spokesman Adam Smith said the pilot was on a regular proficiency flight when the incident happened. He told NBC 5 they plan to again repair the aircraft and get it flying.
Officials have not given any other details on what may have gone wrong with the aircraft or why a belly landing was necessary. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Officials with the city of Dallas tweeted that a crane will be used to remove the damaged aircraft from the airfield and that the runways should reopen to traffic at about 1:15 p.m.
The original article can be viewed here.
(Featured Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)