‘Wings Over Pearl’ experience offers living history flights in a WWII fighter plane

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting next week, get used to seeing a restored World War II aircraft flying over Oahu.

It will be giving paying passengers a bird’s eye view of sites that were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.

The experience is called “Wings Over Pearl.”

“We’re not giving tours of Oahu. That’s for the helicopter guys to show you the waterfalls and such. We’re giving historical flight experiences in a P-51 Mustang,” said Jim Martinelli, the operations director Erickson Aircraft Collection, which owns the vintage fighter plane.

It arrived in Honolulu in March 2020 to begin flights, but then COVID hit.

“We made that commitment and left the airplane here for an entire year,” Martinelli said.

Aside from occasional proficiency flights, the P-51 has been sitting in a hangar off Lagoon Drive, grounded by the pandemic.”

Erickson stuck it out because it believes the P-51 adds an important element to the Pearl Harbor story.

“This is where World War II started, and this is the airplane that finished World War II,” Martinelli said.

The P-51 Mustang is the most famous fighter plane from World War II. Erickson’s aircraft was one of the last to roll off the assembly line.

“It’s painted as a Red Tail aircraft which were flown by the Tuskegee Airmen, who were the first African-American fighter pilots,” Martinelli said.

Erickson Aircraft Collection is based in Central Oregon and boasts an impressive collection of World War II aircraft.

Rides on the P-51 range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the package purchased.

“The airplane is very expensive to operate,” Martinelli said. “It costs about $4,000 an hour to fly the airplane.”

Now that “Wings Over Pearl” is finally getting off the ground, vintage aircraft enthusiasts are reserving seats for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“It’s a bucket list item. You’ve never been in anything like it in your life,” Martinelli said.

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