Lee Lauderback to Receive FAA Award as Stallion 51 Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Several P-51 Mustang demonstration flights to take place at Sun ‘n Fun.

Stallion 51 Mustang
Stallion 51 founder Lee Lauderback will receive the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at this year's Sun 'n Fun Fly-In event.Pia Bergqvist

This year’s Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In will be a special one for P-51 Mustang enthusiasts as Kissimmee, Florida-based Stallion 51 is celebrating its 30th anniversary of providing instruction and demonstrations in the historic fighter.

Stallion 51 is hosting more than a dozen P-51 customers who flew in for the occasion. In addition to participating in special events at the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, the company is spending the week providing dedicated clinics for the owners and other invitees.

A mass formation of Mustangs will arrive at the Lakeland-based airshow on Wednesday. Thursday has been designated Mustang Day, and there will be special flight demonstrations during the airshow with flybys, aerobatic demos and a USAF Heritage Flight with the F-16 Viper.

Stallion 51 founder Lee Lauderback will fly one of his Mustangs in formation with pilots from the Air Force Heritage Flight Program. Lauderback was one of the first civilian pilots to be accepted in the Heritage Flight Program when it was started in 1997, and he has flown with the F-15, F-16, F-4, A-10 and F-22 as part of the program. This will be a special flight, however, as Lauderback has been re-qualified to fly one last time after resigning from the program in 2015.

Lauderback will be honored by the FAA on Friday with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award (MPA), an honor bestowed on a pilot with 50-plus years of safe flight operations. Lauderback, who worked as Arnold Palmer’s chief pilot for many years, was nominated for the award by Palmer himself before his passing last year.