Galloping On Wings: With the P-51 Mustang
By Howie Keefe
Book review by Brad Hagen
6” X 9”
200+ photos and
What are the
chances of any of us owning and flying a P-51 Mustang for fun and airshows, much
less racing one, probably not good. I’ve
always wondered and dreamed of what that would be like, building models is as
close as a lot of us will get to that dream.
On Wings, the wondering what it is like is answered in spades and does it ever
sound like fun (except on the wallet), the dreaming will always go on though.
This is the first book written by an Unlimited air racing pilot from the
modern era, 1964 to the present.
Howie Keefe has
had a long and distinguished career as a pilot which he covers in the book.
He started flying before WW2 in a Piper Cub while in the Civilian Pilot
Training (CPT) program, after WW2 started, Howie received a commission in the
navy and became an instructor, his stories show that being an instructor could
be tedious, but also hair raising. Later
in the war, he received multi engine training and moved on to flying PBY’s and
P2V Neptunes on anti-submarine patrols in the Bermuda Triangle. Howie
retired from the Navy in 1950, but kept his love for flying and a friend got him
to start flying light private planes. In
all honesty, when I got to this part of the book, I thought it would be boring,
I mean, how interesting can flying a
small private plane be….with Howie, it can be very interesting!!!
There were times I was laughing out loud and shaking my head in
amazement, it seams he had a passenger along on many flights named Mr. Murphy
:-) His story of losing all the electrical circuits on landing,
shooting off the end of the runway and going down the highway and stopping in a
graveyard, but still getting the plane out of there before the police came is a
in flying led to his development of the widely used VFR charts in the Sky Prints
Aviation Atlas and the current IFR and VFR charts in the Air Chart System.
light planes for a number of years he moved on up to an SNJ (Navy version of the
Army AT-6), it’s with this plane that the racing bug hit.
It’s with the SNJ that Howie finally got his mom to go up in an
airplane for the first time, he was giving her a really great ride, while
buzzing their house, he irritated a retired Colonel (an SNJ/AT-6 makes a
tremendous racket when the prop tips go super sonic), as only mothers can, she
thought her son was very important to warrant an escort by three squad cars down
the taxiway. In the late ‘60’s
and ‘70’s, there were a surprising number of air races around the country in
which Howie participated.
day Howie walked into his living room and saw his kids watching TV, they were
always watching shows like the Man from UNCLE, and Mission Impossible.
He started remembering growing up in the ‘20s and ‘30s and his heroes
were people like Roscoe Turner, Ben Howard, and Gar Wood.
He wanted the kids to have something more than TV, something real that
they could touch and sit in, when he saw Robert Cleavis’s red, white, and blue
Mustang, he fell in love with it and knew that was what he had been looking for,
and named it Miss America after his childhood idol Gar Wood's famous speedboat
Howie flew Miss America, he always thought of the kids, and always let them sit
in the cockpit and get their pictures taken.
His connection with kids was strengthened when Revell made a 1/32nd
scale model and Cox became a sponsor and made a U-control plane, both very
started racing Miss America in 1969 in both pylon and transcontinental races,
finally stopping in 1980, he holds the record for most consecutive races at 21
(with only the Reno races today, who knows if that will ever be beaten) and also
set (and still holds) the propeller
speed record from Los Angeles to Washington DC in 1972 in 6 hours and 21
minutes. He also flew airshows all
over the US and Canada, and like the previous parts of the book, this part is
filled with stories that will have you both laughing and shaking your head
thinking this guy is very lucky.
out the book at the different stages of Howie’s life/career, he tells you what
his thoughts were on the different events of the times.
It’s not politically correct, you may or may not agree, but you’ll
know what makes him tick and do the things he does….and it’s very refreshing
in today’s world of “watch what you say, someone might get upset”.
He doesn’t tear anyone apart, after reading the book, I don’t think
Howie could do that, you just know exactly where he stands.
America was sold, the current owner is Brent Hisey who still races her and is
keeping up the ideals the Howie started with Miss America. Click here http://www.pylon1.com/news/need4speed/chad-missa/index.shtml
for a story by Chad Kuenzinger who won a ride in Miss America from a contest
offered on Pylon1.com.
highly recommend this book, it is a really great read, and after dreaming of
Miss America for so many years, I finally got to know what it was like flying
her around….the dream still continues.
book can be ordered directly from Howie either by email, snail-mail or phone,
the plus side of ordering it by phone is you get to talk with Howie:
6357 Irena Avenue
Camarillo, CA 93012
1-877-773-7843 (9AM to 9PM PT)
is $20.00 per copy and shipping is $2.00, overseas orders may want to contact
him to see if shipping is more.
like to thank Mark Kallio at Pylon1.com http://www.pylon1.com/
for the use of the Miss America photos and Chad’s article from his site,