By KEN CARPENTER
Great Bend Post
GREAT BEND — The classic P-51 gunfighter will be returning to Great Bend Airfest this weekend. Larry “Lumpy” Lumpkin will also be returning to fly the vintage aircraft. Lumpkin said the P-51 played a pivotal role for the Allies during the Second World War.
“It was originally designed for the British as a close air support, ground support aircraft, but once the British got to flying it, they said this American made Allison engine just kind of poops out at about 12,000 feet on us. If we could put one of these Merlin engines in it, we could really make a heck of an airplane out of it,” Lumpkin explained. “And that’s what they did. So it became a long-haul airplane to support the bombers all the way into Germany.
The plane that Lumpkin will be flying at Airfest was built in 1945 near the end of the war. It was retired from service in 1957 and is owned by the Commemorative Air Force in Texas. He thinks the crowd at Airfest will enjoy seeing the historic aircraft.
"We do about an eight-to-eight-and-a-half-minute acrobatic routine,” Lumpkin commented. “It’s not a lot like you see in these advanced acrobatic aircraft. It’s more like a graceful type of loop and roll and barrel roll. But it definitely gets you the idea of how graceful the airplane is.”
Lumpkin says he loves meeting school children when he comes to Great Bend. He retired three years ago as a pilot for United Airlines after a 32-year career. More information about Lumpkin and his plane can be found at P51gunfighter.com