Here’s what it’s like to fly a P-51 when the engine quits

This week, the famous Memphis Belle B-17 World War II bomber was unveiled after a restoration. There are fewer than a dozen B-17’s left flying and this won’t be one of them. It’s too valuable to lose so it will spend the rest of its days in a museum.

There’s a fair amount of debate in aviation history circles about whether old airplanes should be flown or merely displayed, and a pretty incredible video released today should rekindle the discussion.

Mark Levy was piloting a P-51 fighter in the annual airshow in Duxford, England last July when the engine quit. He was wearing a helmet camera for the flight, which provides a most unusual perspective on what it’s like when you’re about to go down in a classic aircraft.

This is what it looks like to ditch in a P-51.

A day earlier, another P-51 had crashed, killing the pilot and a passenger.

For aviation fans, here’s a longer discussion about flying and landing a crippled airplane.

Archive: The unnecessary death of a B-17 (NewsCut)