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The North American P-51 Mustang
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P-51 Who?   Case # 141
44-73142     N51VP     Closed
Solved by: Mark Clark, T.J. Johansen
P-51 Who 141
Case#: 141
Date: Nov 01 2001
By: Dan Linn
Photo: Denton TX, 1990?
Status: Closed
Serial: 44-73142
Registry: N51VP
P-51 Who? Viewer Responses
Marshall T. Lysne
11/24/2001 22:27
I am curious if the picture shown on your quiz has an accurate date. I have a picture of a P-51 with the exact same paint scheme that was stationed at DuPage County airport in West Chicago Illinois in the middle '60's. The number of that P-51 was N2112 and registered to William Ross. It was later sold to Ken Burnstine who changed the color scheme and raced the plane at Reno under the name of Miss Suzie Q. The serial number of that aircraft was 44-74756N. This plane later crashed at Reno in the early or mid '70's. I have never seen another Mustang with the same paint application until now.
Mark Clark
11/26/2001 22:46
N6173C owned by Vern Peterson of Gainesville TX. Vern was killed in the crash of the aircraft at Denton not long after this photos was probably taken. Vern was a great guy and former chief pilot For American A/L in Dallas. Vern was killed in the crash of this plane at Denton TX, probably not long after this pic was taken.
TJ Johansen
11/26/2001 22:46
This is the late Vern Peterson's N51VP 44-73142 which crashed on take-off from Denton, TX on Sep. 6, 1989 killing Peterson and injurying his passenger. The wreckage was then sold to Bruce Morehouse of Denton, TX, and later to Tony Banta who has the plane under restoration!
Mark Clark
12/02/2001 19:07
There were several P-51 that had this paint job. N2112 was one of them-owned by Bill Ross.
Pete Hodgdon
04/22/2008 20:11
Vern was a dam good pilot, he gave me many a thril in his P-51...One time we did a Bob Hoover role on T/O out of Gainesville, TX, another time we did touch and go's on abandon airstrips, did loops and rolls over Texas country side...we even flew it with a damaged Vertical when we ran off the runway at Meechan Field...Vern was a great guy, but in my opinion he took to many chances. At the time 1974/75, his 51 was mint with a chrome plated prop, and the latest radio equip. He use to monitor the AA pilots flying out of DFW when he was flying his 51. He kept a spare engine in the barn on his ranch....rest in peace Vern, thanks for the memories.
Jan Harper
05/16/2008 00:22
N6173C was owned and flown by Hap Harper prior to 1963.I have photos of him with the plane at the 1958 Oakland Airshow, if anyone is interested.
Keith Snyder
11/30/2008 19:25
My father knew Vern very well, and I flew with him in this aircraft about a year before it crashed. That flight remains one of my most cherished memories.The cause of the crash was engine failure. The engine had just undergone a partial overhaul. One bank of cylinders was rebuilt to factory specs. Due to the cost of the rebuild, the other bank was to be done at a later date. The crash was on the first flight after engine reinstallation.Vern took off, and almost immediately the engine siezed up. Post mortem showed that the crankshaft had broken in multiple places. Rather than bellying the aircraft in the farm fields that surround the Denton airport, he tried to turn back to the airport's runway. He lost too much altitude, dug a wing in, and cartwheeled. Vern died at the scene. His passenger was thrown clear, and was still strapped in his seat. I had heard he walked away - if he was injured, it was minor.The aircraft had been housed at the Gainesville TX airport for several years, before moving down to Denton.
john mohan
01/04/2009 13:15
i have seen vern at love field when i work for american air lines. and al denton airport. the ntsb said that vern air craft carg had about a 1/2 gal of water in it. and some one said that vern did not sump his tanks . john
Dan Thompson
02/15/2009 13:37
I am building a Wedsite for the new owners of this aircraft and when I have finished the site I will post the URL here.ThanksDan
Adam Schniederjan
06/08/2009 10:45
In the summer of 1980 I was working as a lineman at the Gainesville, TX airport. I knew Vern Peterson fairly well; it seems if memory serves me correct that he would come out to the airport several times a month to take a friend or two up for a half hour or so flight.At that time the Old Camp Howze era kwansit type hanger was infested with pigeons. Vern's gorgeous plane seemed to always have pigeon droppings on it. On several occasions I would volunteer my time to clean it for him. One afternoon he came out with a friend and the two went on about a 40-minute flight. On this day after retuning Vern parked his plane on the apron in front of the FBO office. He told me that he would take me up for a flight when he got back from lunch. An hour later we both climbed aboard. It was the ride of my life. We took off on the east runway flying directly over the northern edge of Gainesville. Within, what seemed like a minute and a half he did a low fly-by and buzzed a friend of Vern's home near Callisburg, TX. Within another minute or two we were flying over the Willis Bridge US-370 on Lake Texoma. Vern then circled back around and we were heading back towards the Gainesville Airport. Flying west over the Red River at about 1,200 feet Vern barrel rolled this amazing plane once to the left, then once to the right. After every flight upon returning to the airport Vern would always do a screaming low pass fly-by over the North-South runway at Gainesville going about 400 miles an hour! This day it was no different. As we were coming in approaching the airport from the north Vern nosed down his majestic bird and we were 300 feet off the deck screaming down the runway; at about three quarters of the way down the end of the runway Vern pulled the throttle all the way back and made a steep climb up and left turn to get into the downwind leg of the pattern. Today I still get Goosebumps remembering that flight like it was yesterday. I will always cherish that 8-minute flight, and will always remember what Vern Peterson meant to me. Thanks Vern for the memories. God Bless You!
rick mcnairn
05/21/2010 20:25
I HAVE WORKED AT WEBER AIRCRAFT FOR 37 YRS.THE PLANT IS NEXT TO THE GAINESVILLE MUNICIPAL A/P. WE USED TO SET OUT BACK AT LUNCH, TALKING AND TAKING SMOKE BRAKES.EVERY NOW AND THEN YOU WOULD HEAR AN ENGINE ROAR TO LIFE AND GROWL, AFTER AWHILE HE WOULD TAXI DOWN TO THE END OF THE RUNWAY AND A SHORT SHOW WAS ON. HE WOULD MAKE A FEW PASSES AND NOW THEN HE WOULD DO A VICTORY ROLL AND A FEW LOW SPEED PASSES. SINCE HIS TRAGIC ACCIDENT THE SKY HAS BEEN EMPTY. BUT THERES NOT A TIME I CANT LOOK OUT BACK AND ALMOST SEE HIM SPEEDING DOWN THE RUNWAY. THE ACCIDENT REPORT WAS IN THE GAINESVILLE PAPER. I CLIPPED OUT THE REPORT AND HIS OBITUARY AND I STILL HAVE IT AS MEMORY.
Windy Fleming, Retired AA 777 Captain
02/06/2011 05:40
I remember hearing all kinds of a roar outside the hangar and as I stepped out an American Airlines 707, someone did a low pass down the Gainesville Runway at about 400 knots. Vern again.
Brad Peterson
08/15/2011 22:24
Vern was my father and I can still rember to this day at the age of 15 when he died. Some of you are right about your stories and others are way off. The final NTSB ruling was that there was water in the fuel. The motor had not just been worked on. There was a passenger in the back seat that walked away. He was just someone that my father had just met that day who had helped him wash the Mustang and my father was taking him for a ride. After the crash I moved the wreckage to our family farm and put in an old hay barn. A year later one of my fathers friends Frank ( who owned Fox51 in Denton where my dad kept the Mustang ) represented a couple of men who wanted to rebuild the mustang. I agreed in letting them take the wreckage in agreement that there would be something placed on the plane in dedication to my father. I kept the front seat, front windshield with the instrument panel and the part of the canopy with his name painted on it. Later I found out these men had only bought the plane to resale it. I sure wish at the age of 16 I had been smart enough to have just let it sit and rot in the barn. Even though there's not a day that doesn't go by that I don't miss my father I'm so glad that he died flying the plane he loved so much instead of dying hooked up to a machine in a hospital of old age.
Marchi Giovanni
11/25/2012 02:01
Hi Brad,
I purchased remains of your dad's P51 several years ago in Indiana.I'm rebuilding it . Pity identity was swapped, but the original airframe is located at my home.
I would like enter in contact with you .Is it possible ?

b.r.
Giovanni

giovanni marchi
12/17/2012 04:25
Somebody can put me in contact with Brad Peterson , please ?
b.r.,
gio
Kristine Peterson-Walsh
04/15/2014 22:06
Hello All, I am one of Vern Peterson's 4 children. My Dad was always quite the dare devil and loved flying and being in the heavens more than walking on the earth! All of his acrobatic flights started when he was in his 20's. My Mother often recalls her 1st date being flown over Malibu upside down in an open cockpit without a seat belt! ~ It's hard to believe that Dad would ever not sump water off the fuel tank. He was a real detailed guy when it came to his "Baby P-51 Mustang-Baby. I am so glad that he touched so many with his charity flights across the US and to individuals who wished for an exciting and literal uplifting experience! Dad, you are always in our hearts!
Brandon Ayers
04/01/2017 21:28
I'm located at Gainesville, Texas where this plane was originally located. Some members of our EAA Chapter gave me copies of this plane from back in the 80's when it was in the old WWII hanger. I am very interested in where the plane is now and if it is out of restoration now. I would love to be able to show a picture to our older EAA members of the current condition and location of this aircraft.

Brandon Ayers
940-780-8062
kurtayers_24@yahoo.com
James Di Giacomo
02/06/2018 09:56
I remember Vern when I was young and he lived near O Hare in Bensenville. My dad met Vern when he was flying out of Midway.
I had the privilege along with my dad and sister flying with Vern on A DC 10 for American around Chicago back in 1972.
Case Closed!
P-51 Mustang

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