HONOLULU (AP) — Sightseers will soon have an opportunity to experience history while viewing Hawaii when a vintage World War II fighter plane begins passenger flights.
A private company has modified a P-51D Mustang to allow space for the pilot and a backseat passenger beginning in March, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Monday.
Wings Over Pearl is expected to take passengers up in a 1944 Mustang owned by the Erickson Aircraft Collection, which participates in global air shows and operates paid flights from its hangar at Madras Airport in Oregon.
A 15-minute tour of Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Army Airfield and the Haleiwa Fighter Strip is expected to cost $2,900.
A 30-minute ride that includes flights around Pearl Harbor, Wheeler, Haleiwa, Bellows Airfield, Kahuku Army Airfield, and the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point is scheduled to cost $3,400.
The P-51 was regarded as one of the best fighter planes of the European theater in the latter part of WWII.
First designed for the British as a medium-altitude fighter, the plane combined U.S. design and Britain’s Rolls-Royce V-12 Merlin engine and flew as a bomber escort.
The Mustang “excelled in hedge-hopping strafing runs and long-range escort duty,” according to aircraft company Boeing.
“It made a name for itself blasting trains, ships and enemy installations in Western Europe and by devastating Axis defenses before the Allied invasion of Italy,” Boeing said.
By the end of the war, Mustangs had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other U.S. Army Air Forces fighter in Europe, the Air Force reported.
“There’s really nothing like it and it’s such a distinctive sound,” said P.J. O’Reilley, who helped the venture get off the ground. “(People) are going to hear it and run outside to see it.”