The Horsemen Aerobatic Team
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The Horsemen Aerobatic Team is the world's only P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning, F4U Corsair, F8F Bearcat, and F-86 Sabre formation aerobatic team, composed of three warbird pilots who have a passion for showcasing their aircraft. The mission of The Horsemen is to "bring greater interest to the world of historic aviation and to remind future generations of how these powerful machines helped the Allies change the outcome of World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War."
Air show overview
Similar to other professional flying groups, The Horsemen's schedule runs each year from mid-March until early November utilizing both military and civilian airfields. They participate in events within the US as well as in Canada and Europe, usually participating in ten shows per season.
Squadron nickname, insignia and paint scheme
Since their formation in 1994, The Horsemen have utilized the insignia of the grim reaper on a horse bearing a shield with an emblem of the P-51 on the front of it. Since the addition of Steve Hinton to the team, the logo has also been altered to have the emblem of the F-86. The imagery is meant to represent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, though Ed Shipley is quoted as saying that the name was inspired by a Metallica song.
The Horsemen fly their formation aerobatic routine in three original P-51 Mustangs which previously served in World War II. These authentic Mustangs are owned by two of the Horsemen pilots. Nearly 15,000 Mustangs were during the war at a cost of $50,000 each. Today, approximately 150 Mustangs remain flying at an average cost of around $2,000,000.
The P-38s, F4Us, F8Fs and F-86s are also owned and operated by members of the team and are meticulously maintained by dozens of ground crews year round.
Steve Hinton is the Horsemen flight lead. He is the president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California, and has flown more than 350 different types. Hinton is also a civilian pilot for the USAF Heritage Flight program.
Ed Shipley is the founder of the group and is a long-time air show performer with more than 18 years of experience flying the T-6 Texan, P-51 Mustang, the F8F Bearcat and the F-86 Sabre. He was also one of the civilian founders of the USAF Heritage program and serves on the International Council of Air Shows’ Board of Directors.
Jim Beasly was the former flight lead, and is also a long time airshow performer. He is also a pilot with the USAF Heritage Flight program.
Training and weekly routine
The Horsemen usually start their training routine in January at a private training airport in Texas and continue until the date of their first show in March, with intermittent training flights during the season. Throughout the season, the pilots tour the country promoting upcoming events and filming for an upcoming television series. Much of their footage could be found on ASB.tv before it closed in 2012.