Tuesday, September 22, 2009
P-51 At Twenty One
Celebrating one family’s passion for warbird
P-51 Solo at 21 Years Old! Video By: Scott Slocum
At 21, Conrad has joined the ranks of the few who can call themselves Mustang pilots. He has just completed three takeoffs and landings under the watchful eye of his father/instructor Mark Huffstutler, a 13,000-plus-hour pilot and warbird enthusiast from Uvalde, Texas. “He looks so young,” I think to myself as Conrad, dressed in a vintage uniform (with tennis shoes), is congratulated by friends and family. Yet by the time Yeager was Conrad’s age, he already had flown several combat missions, been shot down and wounded, and become an ace by shooting down five planes in one day—unbelievable!
A story like this begins with a love of aviation. For the Huffstutler family, this started with Conrad’s grandfather taking his son, Mark, to the airport for rides. The flying bug stuck, so Mark scrimped and saved, taking flight lessons in the early morning before school started. Knowing he wanted to make a living in aviation, Mark went to junior college in Uvalde to get all of his ratings. He was hired to fly a Howard 500 radial twin-engine taildragger for the former governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe. Mark later purchased a local FBO, and after 30-plus years of growing the company, he now owns one of the most successful business jet and modification shops in the country, Sierra Industries. He has grown the company’s product line from five products to more than 300 performance and safety modification items, all approved by the FAA.
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Labels: Advanced Ratings, Classic Airplanes, Features, Fighter Jets, Journeys, People and Places, Warbirds, Travel