Stan Stokes painting of P-51D Mustang “Bunny”
The Palm Springs Air Museum’s P-51D Mustang “Bunny” was originally Bob Pond’s aircraft. He had purchased it in 1981. My first flight in it was in the summer of 1992. Out of all of the airplanes that Bob had in his collection, this was his favorite one. He just reeky clicked with it and loved flying it. Bob would call me quite often and say, “Stanley, I’m flying the Mustang today. Meet me at the hangar in 45 minutes!” You just didn’t turn Bob Pond down when he offered you a ride, so I would drop everything and he over to Bob’s hangar. He just loved to share the thrill of flying his Mustang!
Bob gave it to the Palm Springs Air Museum more than 10 years ago. Several years ago, it was completely restored and once again made airworthy. Since then, it has been flown on a regular basis. It has continuously appeared at airshows and has even raced at the Reno National Air Races.
During the restoration, it was decided to paint it in the WWII colors of Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Bob Friend. I had gotten to know Bob well enough to know that he was a fabulous individual with a great combat record. There weren’t any photos of the nose art on his Mustang taken during the war, so I had many lengthy conversations with him regarding the nose art and when I painted it on the mustang, he said that I had nailed it! The Mustang, with its red tail, red nose, highly polished fuselage, and colorful nose art turned out to be a very handsome airplane.
If you are in the Palm Springs area, please stop by the Palm Springs Air Museum and pay “Bunny” a visit. Be sure to plan enough time to see all of the other fabulous airplanes that are in the museum’s collection.