photos credit Bob Mikesh
Suzanne Thorndike was only 16 years old, when her father, Charlie Blair completed his world record flight in "Excalibur III", but she continued to be involved with that P-51 aircraft for many years.
Many people recognized the importance to restore and display "Excalibur III" but none more than Suzanne and her siblings, Chris and Lee. I recently had the pleasure to meet Suzanne's son, Blair Thorndike, who shared some of the letters between Suzanne and the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and Bob Mikesh in support of "Excalibur III's" placement in the museum.
Bob Mikesh was a good friend of Charles F. Blair Jr. and family. He traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands to interview Charley for his book on "Excalibur III" and as a curator of NASM (1970-1991) was involved with the restoration and display.
Everyone was hoping for the iconic P-51 to be displayed at the main museum on the mall, but it eventually made it to the NASM at Washington Dulles International Airport at Chantilly, Virginia.
Even though some might prefer the aircraft to be on the mall, I believe that the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center /NASM at Dulles is the premier location for "Excalibur III" This annex of the NASM has continued to have the room as well as the funding to see continued growth and attendance.
I know that, Capt. Charles F. Blair Jr. is proud of his offspring for their efforts on keeping this part of his flying career alive for many years to come.
Read more about "Excalibur III" and those that helped to ensure its presences in the NASM.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bob when he made his visit to St. Croix in 1978. Bob visited Charlie and Maureen while completing his book on "Excalibur III" as well as the above article for Maureen's VI Magazine. This visit was just months before Charlie's death in September.
Forgive me for indulging myself by relating my personal memories, but I have done it to point out that this was big news in 1951 (we have boxes of news clippings from all over the world reporting on both flights) and I think they should be honored today. We no longer read about epic flights like these which are planned and financed by one individual
with a dream"
Suzanne Blair Thorndike