The 513-pound Loehle P 5151 is powered by
the dual ignition Rotax 582, featuring water cooling and CDI
Ignition. Mike Loehle quotes 6 to 12 months to build one
(some 400-500 hours), though accuracy freaks can easily
exceed that in adding those special touches that replica
fighter flyers love to add to their birds.
Entry and exit is pretty uncomplicated.
Step up on the wing and into the cockpit. Inside, I found
more room than I had found on the original fixed-gear bird
many years ago. The control system is quite conventional,
though a simple hand crank and locking mechanism tend to the
landing gear retraction and extension chores.
Once I was belted in and fired up, I
found the Mustang's ground handling to be obedient and
undemanding, though visibility to the front tends to get
disturbed by that gorgeous Mustang nose.
I'm willing to sacrifice a little
visibility just for the view, let me tell you. All lined up
at the end of the grass runway, I caught myself adding power
slowly. In a real one you can overpower the rudder if you
put the pedal down too quickly, But I laughed and poured the
coals on. The 5151 responded immediately, and I do mean
One thing you'll notice about Mike's fake
fighter is that this thing has guts right from the get go. I
was off the ground and in the air in a little more than 500
feet and heading through 500 feet before I even thought
about the gear, which came up in a few cranks and operated smoothly while I started
figuring the beast out.
I used 55-65 mph in the climb-out,
figuring out that being a chicken was safer for the time
being and still surprised to see the 5151 climb at well over
1,000 fpm. With the gear tucked up for a snooze, the ASI
poked up and announced it was doing a solid 80 mph.
Firewalling the beast got us flirting with 100 mph in short
Control pressures are mild, the effective
is just short of aggressive and the overall response is more
than I expected and better behaved, as well. The roll rate,
properly led by rudder. is pretty good, but not hot enough
to scare a neophyte. Indeed, despite the response, there is
nothing at all scary about this thing. Pitch is responsive
and accompanied by a delightfully positive stability profile that is nearly matched by
roll. The rudder picks up awing nicely, I might add.
stall is a very anti-climactic affair that comes with
plenty of r high frequency buffeting around 35
mph with the actual stall in the neighborhood of 30-32
mph. Real Mustangs TAXI faster than that. The stall
occurs fairly calmly, with a light break that can be disturbed only through
aggressive pitch displacements prior to stall. I had
one heading up like a space shuttle. It will kick over to either
side at the break, but you have to hold in a fair amount of
rudder s and aft stick to get to start developing into
anything significant. You only have to pop the stick
forward to get things back to normal flight.
Of course, like any Mustang driver (OK, even one with
only 65 hp) I had to head in and make the obligatory low
strafing pass. and a swift 100 mph pass produced a solid
feel, some stiffening (good, this thing dampens well) in
the controls and a very reassuring feeling of solidity
under my butt. Strafing across the field, the gradual
chandelle up and into the downwind leg was a pretty way
to end a very nice flight.
With a 60 mph approach (a bit fast, I
think) after a deliciously steep slip, the Mustang came
down to earth in atypical "hot-stuff'" wheel landing
that was as sweet to I fly as any I have accomplished in
the real thing.
The real Mustang, by the way,
is not nearly the beast that many pilots think it is. A
three-pointer was just as predictable and just as easy
to produce. Not bad. To make a long story short, this
thing is really a gutsy little bird. It is extremely
agile, has a sweet temper and is about as much fun as
anything I flew this year. Sure, the airplane is a phony
fighter, but don't let that fool you into taking it less
than seriously. If you do, you're definitely missing out
on something special. This thing is a gas. By the way,
there is P-40 replica, based on the Mustang platform, in
Story Courtesy of J.R. Zoom Campbell