WWII veteran pilot celebrates 100th birthday by flying a P-51 Mustang once again

You probably didn't know it, but a hero flew over thousands of people's heads on Tuesday.

For his 100th birthday, World War II veteran Paul Crawford flew a P-51 Mustang. He and the aircraft go way back.

"I can't see squat," he said.

Things might not be what they used to be, but they are still going strong.

"That was a great airplane out there to fly. Best out there, in my opinion," he said. "It's agile, to me, it's easy to fly."

Just like a World War II-era P-51 Mustang, the veteran pilot from the 14th Air Force is easy to talk to his ammunition. Quick wit.

"Don't you have better people to talk to than this tank," he asked with a laugh.

This week, Crawford celebrates 100 years, most of them on this earth. His best moments were in the sky.

"It'd beat the hell out of ground fire. Who'd want to be an infantryman when you could fly an airplane," he said.

To celebrate his centennial, nonprofits Inspire Aviation Foundation and Liberty Foundation put the veteran pilot back in his proper place.

"Even though he's 100, in his brain, he's 19, 20 years old again. You can't go in a Mustang without going upside down at least once," Ray Fowler said.

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Paul Crawford, a WWII veteran pilot, took to the sky once again to celebrate his 100th birthday flying a P-51 Mustang at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee on March 19, 2024. (FOX 5)

Fowler and Moreno Aguiari are behind Crawford's more recent flights. They are deals that were brokered years ago.

"We have a P-51, so I told Mr. Crawford, ‘We'd like to fly you in P-51.’ He didn't believe me, hung up on me," Aguiari said.

Tuesday's onlookers are aware Crawford is one of the last of his kind, representing a fearless and precedent-setting generation.

"Except my legs are much slower. My brain too, I'm afraid," Crawford said.

But if you ask any of the pilots from the hurray flight, Paul Crawford's "still got it."

The last time Crawford flew in a Mustang was a mere 9 years ago, for his 91st birthday. 

This flight was special, as he made a deal with nonprofit leaders--they say he told them: "If I'm vertical by 100, I'm going up again." He told FOX 5 on Tuesday.

If it were up to him, he'd do it all over again next week.