November 22, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Photo by Paul Bowen
Any pilot who loves to read—and reread—the accounts of heroism and daring of the pilots who flew vintage military aircraft in history’s great engagements is inevitably drawn to stories about the P-51 Mustang and its pilots.
Four years ago, 49 living “legends”—men and women who flew the P-51 during World War II—came together for a unique reunion at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. There they were honored at the Gathering of Mustangs and Legends, where some 150,000 spectators had a chance to meet the pilots, and hear first-hand accounts of aviation history brought to life.
The event from Sept. 27 to 30, 2007, reunited “more Mustangs and the men, and women who flew them than any other time since the end of World War II,” said the nonprofit organization The Gathering Foundation, which described the journey to Columbus as a “pilgrimage” for anyone fortunate enough to have attended. The foundation was formed during the organization of the event. Its continuing goal is to preserve the legacy of the remaining vintage fighter aircraft.
The Gathering Foundation has now announced the upcoming release on Dec. 6 of its book, The Gathering of Mustang and Legends: The Final Roundup, to commemorate and preserve—in stories and photographs—those three special days in September 2007. Preparing the book “took four years but was worth the wait,” the foundation said in an announcement.
The 268-page coffee table-style book with 450 photographs and biographies of the pilots who attended the gathering is the result of “four years compiling the best photos and stories from that amazing weekend,” said the foundation’s news release of the announcement. “Pilots from as far away as England brought their planes to be part of the event. Accomplished and renowned aviation photographers from all over the world came to the Gathering to capture the incredible air-to-air moments that filled their lenses and the sky with Mustangs in formation. A hangar was converted into a stage to capture stunning studio photos of the 77 Mustangs that attended.”
The Gathering Foundation is accepting pre-release orders through Nov. 25 at its website or by calling 407/846-7251. A special price of $56 is being offered on pre-ordered books. Pre-ordered DVD-and-book gift sets are priced at $68.
All sale proceeds will go toward supporting the foundation’s work.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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