Pastures New – Farewell to ‘Frankie’

The news broke last week that long-time Duxford resident and airshow favourite P-51D ‘Ferocious Frankie’ would be moving on to a new life and new owner in Turkey. The Mustang had been announced as being sold for a few months so it did not come as a surprise that the airframe would be leaving the UK.

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I don’t think many would have expected the new home for this wonderful Mustang though. It is always good to see these aircraft reaching a new audience and as Turkey’s first warbird I have no doubt that Frankie will be making a great impression and gaining plenty of new fans and memories. Lee Proudfoot made the epic journey over the past week and arrived in glorious blue skies in typical OFMC style judging by the video on Facebook!

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This Mustang will be a familiar sight to anyone who has attended UK or European airshows since the 1980s. The airframe first joined the UK airshow circuit with Stephen Grey, spending much of its time with the Fighter Collection as ‘Moose/Candyman’. Later on the Mustang made the long journey from Hangar 2 to Hangar 3 at Duxford to join the Old Flying Machine Company fleet, playing a starring role in the legendary Breitling Fighters during the early 2000s. While based at Duxford this Mustang has been flown by all manner of legendary names including Mark and Ray Hanna. In recent years ‘Frankie was generally displayed in fine style by Alistair Kay, who always managed to emulate that classic Hanna display profile.

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Since the Breitling Fighters performed their last display in 2003 the Old Flying Machine Company kept their reputation for close-formation aerobatics with regular pairs displays with this Mustang and Spitfire MH434. Frankie’s last public display took place in the 2015 and I clearly remember the final performance I saw alongside MH434 at Dunsfold that year closing with a graceful solo performance having made it down from Duxford in awful weather.

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Since then ‘Frankie has made a few flights but has otherwise maintained pride of place in what will always be considered the OFMC corner of hangar 3. While it is always a shame to see old friends move on it is great to see this airframe in the air again and I look forward to enjoying photos and footage from its new life.

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Fittingly, Frankie’s departure leaves Spitfire MH434 as the final aircraft operated by OFMC at Duxford. Considering this is the aircraft most strongly associated with Mark and Ray Hanna it only seems right that this Spitfire remains on display in Hangar 3 and hopefully continues to fly, keeping an important chapter of airshow history alive.

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