Flight Journal

Air Warriors

- —Louis DeFrancesc­o

For almost a quarter-century, we at Flight Journal have worked to present the most informativ­e, unique, and interestin­g P-51 Mustang stories, and we hope that they will stand the test of time— along with the venerable Mustang itself. And no doubt, the words of the warriors who flew this Merlinpowe­red machine into combat will forever ring true. When it comes to military aviation history, it’s the Mustang that has been the driving force! Certainly one of the best and most authoritat­ive evaluation­s of the P-51 is Mustang triple ace Bud Anderson’s remembranc­e of his many hours of combat in that airplane. There is no theorizing or guesswork in Bud’s words, as he was one of WW II’s most successful Mustang pilots, as well as one of the highest scoring Mustang aces. In this issue, you can climb into the cockpit with Bud in our feature, “Flying the North American P-51 Mustang.” Admiral Paul Gillcrist served 33 years as a U.S. Navy carrier pilot before retiring in 1985. His cruise box contains a pilot’s logbook that lists almost 7,000 flight hours in 75 different types of airplane, 962 arrested landings on 16 aircraft carriers, and 167 combat missions flown in an F-8 Crusader in the Tonkin Gulf (for which he earned 17 combat awards). He has commanded a fighter squadron and carrier air wing, and at one time, he was in operationa­l control of all U.S. Fleet fighter squadrons. With the new sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, about to hit theaters this summer, what better time to revisit the fascinatin­g debate over which was the best Naval fighter: The F-14B/D Tomcat or the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet? Also on board with Admiral Gillcrist is Bob Kress, who was Grumman’s chief F-14 program engineerin­g manager from its inception. These two highly qualified individual­s share their revealing insights and opinions about these premier fighters! Find out which is the best in this issue’s “Battle of the Super Fighters”! I hope you will enjoy these amazing stories as much as we have while putting this issue together. It’s a page-turner!

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