Share This Article

The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends: The Final Roundup

edited by Lyn Freeman, photo-edited by Paul Bowen, The Gathering Foundation, Kissimmee, Fla., 2011, $70

September 27 through 30, 2007, saw a unique double reunion at Rickenbacker International Airport, near Columbus, Ohio. For what was said to be the last time, 77 North American P-51 Mustangs of virtually every model gathered during an epic fly-in. Also present for what would indisputably be the last time were 51 Mustang pilots. Among them were combat fliers from Europe to Burma, including representatives of the all-black 332nd Fighter Group, as well as Women Air Force Service Pilots who had ferried planes cross-country and notables such as Bob Hoover (reunited with his own Mustang, Ole Yeller). The foundation behind that event has now published The Gathering of Mustangs and Legends to commemorate the historic get-together.

The Gathering is filled with gorgeous photos of P-51s, along with the story behind each restoration. But some of the figures quoted about the P-51’s records are off, such as a claim that Mustangs downed 4,950 enemy planes: Recent research by expert Frank Olynyk puts the total at 5,940. The book also mentions that Roscoe Brown was “one of 15 pilots of World War II who shot down the world’s first jet fighter, the Me-262,” yet records of the Eighth and Fifteenth air forces, as well as Luftwaffe documents, attribute the loss of 120 Me-262s to P-51s.

Mustang fans, of course, will likely forgive such quibbles because of the sentimental journey this book affords them. They may also be motivated to purchase it because part of the proceeds go toward Mustang maintenance and future fly-ins—even if those assemblies won’t ever be quite on the scale of the one held in 2007.


Originally published in the July 2012 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.