How fast can a P-51 go? There’s a new answer thanks to a flight over this past Labor Day weekend carried out by Steven Hinton, a noted air racing champion.
According to a release by Pursuit Aviation, the record was set Sept. 2, 2017, in a modified P-51D Mustang known as Voodoo. Voodoo averaged 531.53 miles per hour on four passes, the fastest of them at 554.69 miles per hour, taking the top honor for the C-1e classification. The previous holder of the record was Will Whiteside Jr., who averaged 318 miles per hour in a modified Yak-3.
While the plane did go faster than Rare Bear, a modified Grumman F8F Bearcat that set an aerial speed record of 528.33 miles per hour in 1989, it did not officially set that World Speed Record due to that record being retired by the World Air Sports Federation due to changes in the sporting code.
According to a history of the plane available at AerialVisuals.ca, it was built in 1944 for the United States Army, then transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951 before being sold off in 1959. The plane went through a number of owners and survived two crashes (one in 1962, and one in 1977) before being sold to William Speer in 1980. It was modified as a racer, then was sold to Bob Button in 1994. Hinton began to race the plane after Button retired in 2007, and won the Unlimited Gold Championship in 2013, 2014, and 2016.
You can see video of this record-setting run below.