Warbird Stories: Wee Willy II takes a father and son legacy to new heights

May 16, 2022

In February, Steve Hinton, Sr. completed his tenure with the Heritage Flight program in a grand finish, flying P-51 Mustang “Wee Willy II” over Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium to kick off Super Bowl LVI.  In March, he patched his son Steven Hinton as the newest member of the Air Force Heritage Flight Team.

This past weekend, Hinton officially took his first flight with the Heritage Flight Program at Wings Over Solano, piloting “Wee Willy II” and further cementing the Hinton aviation legacy. Like his father, Hinton is a passionate aviator and restorer with a keen eye and appreciation for the P-51 Mustang. To him, each flight and each aircraft is a new challenge.

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“There's a performance difference across the aircraft I'm privileged to fly. Some aircraft are just effortless to fly,” said Hinton. "With others you really have to push them around the sky. It's really a delight in flying a Mustang that's a well-balanced set up."

Hinton’s favorite Mustangs to fly are “stock” or originals, with their canvas and all. “There's a specific canvas that was used in the aircraft in the 1940s that is remanufactured today so you can kind of picture yourself in the era with the same sights, the same smells,” he said.

And while “Wee Willy II” is not 100% stock, Hinton says the Mustang can be more adequately described as a “blend of old and new” that dances through the sky. “As far as aircraft go, I immediately feel at home when I climb into [Wee Willy II]. From the layout of the instrumentation to the seat’s configuration, it feels like you are one with the aircraft."

“Wee Willy II” is based out of the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA. You can read this prized P-51 Mustang’s full story here, and check out our Meet the Pilot Q&A with Steven Hinton here. As one of the newest members of the Air Force Heritage Flight Program, Hinton and “Wee Willy II” travel across the country performing in air shows with the United States Air Force Demo Teams as a living memorial to servicemen and women past and present.

 

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