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 Dudley Henriques  | P-51 Aerobatics

P-51 Aerobatics

Dudley Henriques

Aerobatics are beautiful! I flew the -51 on the airshow circuit back in the sixties. It never gave me a problem....not counting one mid-air with what we later decided was a large owl.

It will roll either way at a very respectful roll rate, depending on the entry speed. Naturally it rolls better to the torque side.

I used 250 mph for most rolls, and about 275 mph for point rolls up to sixteen. Vertical maneuvers in the -51 are also easy if done right, but they can bite you if done wrong. There are heavy torque changes in the vertical plane as the airplane slows down, and also angle of attack changes. You use a lot of rudder to keep it straight over the top. I always lined up the wing tip on the horizon until almost on my back at the top before switching to the top of the canopy for the oncoming inverted horizon.

I almost always used an initial with tactical pitchout when allowed. (You would be amazed at how many towers ASKED for this approach when landing me at a not-too-busy airport.) My airshow approach was NOT a normal approach.

This approach not only looked good, it was tight in and circular, and flown at higher than normal power settings, which kept the Merlin happy and her platinum plugs unfouled.

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