Flying High in a P51 Mustang

Chances are pretty good that I’ll never get to fly a P51 Mustang, but I recently had the chance to pretend. The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. offers visitors a ride in a P51 Mustang simulator. I gladly handed over $7.50 for a mere five minutes of sim time.

With me in the pilot’s seat, my sister was stuck with the gunner’s position (she’s younger than me so I can get away with that). She was a good sport though – even when I threw the “plane” into multiple loops and rolls that turned us upside down and emptied our pockets. We made a great team; after I brought us in fast and low she blew away the enemy tanks like a seasoned gunner. I confess that I got overconfident. I made the last turn too hard and without enough altitude. We plowed into the ground and the simulator shook even as we hung suspended in the air at a 45 degree angle. My career as a war ace was over almost before it had begun. Worse, I’d broken the machine.

But no, the man told me as he opened the simulator door, it was just that our five minutes were up.