AMSTERDAM, N.Y. -- It's said when the German commanders saw the P-51 Mustang over the skies of Berlin, they knew they had lost the war. The plane and its history are integral to the story of World War II, where it escorted American bombers safely into enemy territory.
It's a story that lives on today. One of about 100 Mustangs that are still flyable is in Amsterdam, and it serves a mission just as important as it once did.
"It's part of what makes us Americans. I think that if you lose track of the history of the United States, I think you in many ways are diminished as being American realizing how many people have given their lives over the years to keep America free," said Russell Cecil.
Dr. Russell Cecil is an orthopedic surgeon at St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, and fell in love with the Mustang after a ride in it at an airshow. He and another aviation enthusiast Dave Murphy, bought the Never Miss about eight years ago.
"I never thought I'd, at that time, have a chance to be able to afford or fly a Mustang," said David Murphy, a co-owner of the plane.
Murphy's son Mark has become known as the one of the best Mustang stunt pilots in the country, and agreed to wear a camera as he performed his routine for us.
"This is the dream airplane, this is the Mustang," said Mark Murphy.
For Russell, Dave and Mark, keeping history alive isn't just about owning a piece of it, and showing it off at airshows. In fact, they take it a step further. They've made it their mission to seek out World War II veterans, and give them a ride, in the plane they once might have flown.
"I think there is no choice. If you own a piece of history, we are just caretakers of this airplane, and to be a caretaker of it is to share it with the people they are honoring," said Mark.
"They get a real thrill out of it, and obviously a lot of these guys are in their 90s," said Cecil.
"I had one recently that I took up and it really hits home, he said, my life is complete," said Mark
And the mission of honoring the veterans who are contemporaries of the airplane is one that is unending, and even after they are gone, the plane will live on telling their story.