Loehle P51 Mustang replica aircraft, Loehle P51 Mustang experimental aircraft, Loehle P51 Mustang experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA), Lightsport Aircraft Pilot News newsmagazine.

Lightsport Aircraft Pilot is a directory of aircraft that generally fit into what are described as ultralight aircraft, advanced ultralight aircraft, light sport aircraft, experimental light sport aircraft, experimental aircraft, amateur built aircraft, ELSA or homebuilt aircraft in the United States and Canada. These include weight shift aircraft, more commonly known as trikes, powered parachutes, and powered para-gliders.

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Loehle P51 Mustang Index

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Loehle P51 Mustang experimental lightsport, amateur built aircraft.

Loehle Aviation Inc.,
380-U Shipmans Creek Road,
Wartrace, TN 37183

Loehle P 5151-Mustang

I had a lot of misconceptions refuted at Sun n' Fun 1992, and one of the biggest ones had to do with the Loehle 5151. Years ago, I was one of the first to fly the fixed-gear version of that bird and enjoyed its easy manners and predictable handling. But I hankered for something a little gutsier.

After all, the thing looked like a Mustang. Surely there had to be some rowdiness in its soul, somewhere. Well, there is, and it happens the minute you suck up the gear and head out in the retractable gear version of the 5151.

This Mustang is nearly all wood, taking advantage of geodetic architecture to produce a light and strong airframe that holds up well to the rigors of sport flying. Many other birds also use this construction method, and they all seem to hold up well.

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 immediately.

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 order.

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.

The 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 the works.

Story Courtesy of J.R. Zoom Campbell

Loehle P51 Mustang replica aircraft, Loehle P51 Mustang experimental aircraft, Loehle P51 Mustang experimental light sport aircraft (ELSA), Lightsport Aircraft Pilot News newsmagazine.
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