Most World War II fighter pilots would tell you that the fighter plane they most wanted to fly was the P-51, but not everyone was assigned to one.
In Jack Hallett’s case he ended up flying primarily the twin-engine P- 38 or the single engine P-47 during his tour of duty in Europe during the war. He said he always wanted to fly a P-51 Mustang but never got the chance until the ripe old age of 98, on February 11, 2019.
Jack always likes to test his flying skills by doing some aerobatics and his age doesn’t seem to be a problem as pilots who fly with him these days will tell you. The plan was to fly to New Smyrna Beach, FL, from Leesburg International Airport. On the way, Jack and his pilot lingered in a practice area so Jack could take over the controls and go through a series of maneuvers and aerobatics.
Jack Hallett was invited to take this flight by the Collings Foundation that had just completed their Wings of Freedom weekend at the Leesburg Airport by showing off their two World War II bombers, the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator.
Another aircraft they brought with them was a shiny North American TF-51D called, “Toulouse Nuts”. This warbird restoration won Grand Champion at the 2016 Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Jack flew many aircraft during his tour of duty in Europe except the one he really lusted after, the P-51. Now he can say he has flown all the US Army Air Force WWII fighter planes.
During the war Jack was shot down twice by ground fire and flew cover during the Normandy invasion of France in 1944. During his service he also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He will be giving a talk about his war time flying experiences at a meeting of the EAA Chapter 534 in the airport administration building on Saturday Feb. 23, 2019 at 9a.m.
To find out more about EAA you may go to one of the following web sites: www.eaa.org or www.eaachapter534.org
Story and photos by Ted Luebbers.