“Pecos Bill” at a recent event. The Mustang once served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and was later owned by a fellow named Bill Hubbs in Pecos, Texas (photo by Linda Cortelyou)
“Pecos Bill” is a name that would have been familiar to many in the 1940s. It was the name of a popular, but fictional cartoon cowboy of the old west, created by the writer Edward O’Reilly in the 1920s. Supposedly raised by coyotes, the famous cowboy hailed from Pecos, Texas, hence his name. It was the sort of moniker that could easily translate to a young pilot and his steed in wartime, especially if that steed was a P-51D Mustang.
“Pecos Bill” is indeed celebrated today on the side of P-51D Mustang 44-74445 that many will have seen on the air show circuit. Owned by Cowden Ward since 2012, the Mustang is on a new mission; honoring the Greatest Generation. Not satisfied with simply flying the Mustang in front of audiences across the USA, Cowden Ward has made it his goal to give a last Mustang ride, free of charge, to one hundred WWII veterans over the next year. None of this is inexpensive of course, as direct costs amount to nearly $1000 for each 20 minute ride. And that is where you, our readers, may be able to help.
“Pecos Bill” with three happy customers in Kansas: WWII veterans (l-r) Raymond Fary, Clifford Kantz and Lynus Ryan. (photo by Jen Charlton)
“Pecos Bill” operates under the umbrella organization Freedom Flyers, a multifaceted registered charity which through their outreach programs also helps to inspire American youth on the merits of science and mathematics, and to provide free airborne transportation to medical patients in need. Freedom Flyers is indeed an organization worthy of our support. Please visit their website to learn more, and find out ways you might be able to contribute.
“Pecos Bill” is scheduled to visit the following locations in 2014. Please be sure to check ahead to see whether veteran flights will be offered, and how to register.
22-23 Feb – Air Fiesta 2014 – Brownsville South Padre Island Airport, TX, USA link
29-30 Mar – Wings Over South Texas, NAS Kingsville, TX, USA link
06 Apr – Sun’n Fun Fly-In – Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, Lakeland, FL, USA link
26 Apr – Bluebonnet Air Show – Burnet Municipal Airport, Burnet, TX, USA link
02-04 May – Central Texas Airshow 2014 – Draughon-Miller Airport, Temple, TX, USA link
17 May – Brady , Texas
24-25 May – Cannon AFB Air Power Expo – Cannon AFB, NM, USA link
06-07 Jun – Ada Air Expo 2014 – Ada Municipal Airport, Ada, OK, USA link
14 Jun – Denton Airshow 2014 -Denton Municipal Airport, Denton, TX, USA link
21 Jun – Snyder Air Show – Winston Field Airport, Snyder, TX, USA
05 Jul – Thunder over Cedar Creek Lake Air Show – Cedar Creek Lake, Tyler, TX, USA link
28 Jul / 03 Aug – EAA Air Venture Oshkosh 2014 – Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, WI, USA link
22-23 Aug – Rocky Mountain Air Show & Regional Fly-In – Greeley-Weld County Airport, Greeley, CO, USA link
30-31 Aug – Wild West Air Fest – Bob Adams Field, Steamboat Springs, CO, USA li
10-14 Sep – Reno National Championship Air Races – Reno Stead Airport, Reno, NV, USA link
27 Sep – The Heart of Texas Airshow – TSTC Waco Airport, Waco, TX, USA link
04-05 Oct – Wings Over Tyler Air Show – Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, Tyler, TX, USA link
11-12 Oct – Commemorative Air Force AIRSHO 2014 – Midland Int’l Airport, Midland, TX, USA link
17-18 Oct – Southern Heritage Air Foundation Airshow -Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport, Mound, LA, USA link
25-26 Oct – Fort Worth Alliance Air Show – Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Ft Worth, Dallas, TX, USA link
01-02 Nov – Wings Over Houston Air Show – Ellington Field, Houston, TX, USA link
07-09 Nov – NAS Pensacola Open House – Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show – Sherman Field, NAS Pensacola, FL, USA link