The North American P-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang Survivors
43-6859 N5528N "Thunderbird"
Warren Pietsch, Minot ND
P-51 Survivor 43-6859 N5528N
Status: Crashed 1955, Restoration
NAA Type: P-51B-5NA
Serial #: 43-6859
Registry: N5528N
.. past:   NX5528N
  P-51 Mustangs Survivors  
History: 43-6859 N5528N "Thunderbird"
1944: 363rd FG, 382nd FS
1944: Aug 4 - Crashed 2mi S of Coutance France - engine failure.
1948: Apr 15, NX5528N, Joe DeBona (reg w/ non P-51 serial of 2925, link to 43-6859 is not substantiated)
1948: N5582N, "Thunderbird" #90, Joe DeBona, Bendix Race at Cleveland
1949: N5528N, rep. co-owned, Joe DeBona / Jimmy Stewart - Bendix Racer #90
1949: Bendix Race: 1st Place, 470 mph, Joe DeBona pilot rep. backed by Jimmy Stewart
1949: Dec 19, N5528N, Jacqueline Cochrane
1949: Dec 12, record set in Desert Center CA, 437 mph
1951: Apr 09, record set in Indo CA, 464 mph on 100km course
1953: Jan 29, N5528N, DeBona / Stewart
1953: "Mr. Alex",
Repainted and sponsored by CBS to fly the film reels of the UK Coronation Coverage. The film would be flown from UK to Labrador by a Canberra jet bomber. From there, the networks would have to get the film to Boston. The reels needed to get back to the CBS headquarters to be aired asap. NBC, not to be outdone, hired Paul Mantz's Mustang NX1204 to fly their reels back. ABC? tried to beat everyone by hiring a Canberra, who's pilot scratched the flight for political reasons. The two P-51s raced and it is rep. that CBS won the flying race, but was not first with the coverage. NBC convinced ABC to share its feed from CBC and both networks aired before CBS.
This info was gathered from multiple sources and has not been 100% confirmed but makes a good story

1954: Sep 01, N5528N, Sale, DeBona
1955: Mar 18, N5528N, Sale, Jim Cook, Jacksboro TX
1955: Jun 22, crashed, near Scotts Bluff NE, pilot Jim Cook bailed out because of a gear problem

Thanks to John Terrell for his extensive research

1999: Parts from wreck in Nebraska
2007: Sep 24, N5528N, reg, Warren Pietsch, Minot ND, (restoration)
2020: July, delivered to AirCorps Aviation for restoration.
9 Images of   43-6859   N5528N   "Thunderbird" on file
Images of   43-6859
Image Credits:
  Howard Gribble   Flickr - Kid Deuce  
  San Diego Aerospace Museum    
  Larry Smigla    
  Warren Pietsch    
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