N51TK, 1944 F-51D MUSTANG Crashes on First Solo Flight, Fatal. Rev. 3.

Copyright 2007, Doug Robertson, posted on 2007-07-16

N51TK "Lou IV", a 1944 North American Aviation F-51D Mustang, crashed at Camarillo airport. The 42 year old Thousand Oaks experienced  pilot was killed Sunday, 15 July 2007 at Camarillo Airport CMA, California in an accident on runway 26 in his first solo flight of his aircraft. His name was withheld at request of relatives. He had been taking dual flight instruction in the traffic pattern with his instructor prior to the fatal crash. His instructor had deplaned, informing the CMA Tower that the student on first solo would be doing 'patterns', according to an FAA spokesman. The crash occured about 8:15 a.m. About 30 emergency personnel responded. The pilot was pronounced dead about 8:30 a.m. Witnesses said the plane took off on runway 26 and crashed in an adjacent field. Reportedly, the plane bounced, which meant the pilot likely accelerated while landing, causing the aircraft to roll to the left and flip inverted. The engine dislodged from the aircraft and was found in pieces about 25 feet from the main ruins. The left wing and left side of the fuselage struck the runway, The right side was undamaged. The vintage plane, nicknamed Lou IV had flown in the 2006 Camarillo Airshow last August. The airport was closed to operations, reopening at 1 p.m.
The deceased pilot/owner had reportedly logged 30-50 hours of dual instruction in this Mustang prior to his fatal first solo flight. He also owned a North American T-6 Texan and had attended Pylon Racing Seminar (School) preparatory to planned participation in the T-6 races at Reno in 2008. He was reportedly an attentive, well-liked model student at PRS, and probably would have entered the Unlimited class racing with the Mustang sometime also in the future. I have also heard (unconfirmed) the purchase price of the Mustang was $1.8 million. 
This aircraft, registered as Exhibition-Limited by the FAA, was photographed at the Santa Paula, California Airport during the annual National Bucker Reunion Fly-In that was held 22-24 June, 2007. Several other photographers have also uploaded photos of Lou IV in the airport-data.com database.
North American Aviation P/F-51 Mustangs are among the most coveted and elite civil warbirds. N51TK has a Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1650-7 1,490 horsepower engine with four-blade prop, and is a dual-control aircraft. Most pilots prefer to wheel land the Mustang on the main gear, letting speed bleed off, gradually lowering the tail. Three point landings can be made, requiring skill to land without stalling the aircraft, which drops a wing. Acceleration and torque are significant on takeoff. As the tail is lowered on a wheels landing, forward visibility is lost, making rollout an event to be carefully monitored. According to the late Jeffrey Ethell, "the most challenging part of flying the P-51 is a balked landing go-around. Pushing the throttle forward with gear and flaps down at low speed is just like losing an engine in a high-powered twin. There is a real minimum control speed (Vmc in twins) at which the aircraft will roll over on its back unless power is reduced or airspeed increased." from "Illustrated Classic Warbirds Buyers Guide", p.81, by Jeffrey L. Ethell. Motorbooks International, 1991.
Please click on the top photo to see the aircraft Profile page with more photos. 
I want to thank Pete Mason at SZP for permission to use his excellent photo below of Lou IV on takeoff from runway 22 at SZP the same day I photographed the aircraft. Pete also has better photography equipment than I and he takes great in-flight shots from his various aircraft as well as shots like the example below. My photos of Lou IV were taken with the aircraft parked in front of Pete and Rowena's hangars.



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