In August 1975, avid flier Elmer F. Ward purchased the P-51D Mustang which was once owned by Universal Studios and used in the movie “Battle Hymn” starring the late Rock Hudson. After the requisition, Elmer did a complete restoration of the aircraft and topped it off with the authentic tiger striped paint scheme of Colonel Clairborne Kinnard Jr.’s “Man O’ War”.
As much as Elmer enjoyed flying he also knew that maintenance was the key to safe flying. As a “hands on” owner of his own mechanical engineering company and educated in the field of mechanical engineering, Elmer did all of his own maintenance and would purchase needed parts from the long standing Burbank California company Pioneer Aero Service. In 1984 Joe Friedman,then current owner of Pioneer Aero Service, decided to retire and contacted Elmer to see if he was interested in purchasing the company. With a past experience of working with the Rolls-Royce engine during the war, his love for the P-51 aircraft and its historical significance, Elmer took little time in deciding to accept Joe Friedman’s offer. Lacking the needed time to devote to this new acquisition, Elmer contacted his eldest son Bret to operate the company. Bret, having a background in material control, agreed. With a strong desire to be the best at supporting parts for the Mustang aircraft, in 1987 Bret and Elmer purchased the parts inventory from Lefty Gardner and Gordon Plaskett of Cavalier Aircraft Corporation. Cavalier Aircraft was a major player in rebuilding the “D” model single seat Mustangs as well as the conversion of the “D” model to the “TF” model dual control trainer. This acquisition was significant because it created a stockpile of parts, drawings and tooling that put Pioneer Aero Service as the largest supplier of P51 parts in the world.
Elmer now had the desire to build the “best Mustang anyone has ever seen”. With the collection of the major assemblies, parts, tooling and drawings (including the rare TEMCO drawings used for the “TF” conversion), Elmer asked Bret to hire qualified personnel and build a “D” model single seat and a “TF” dual control Mustang. With parts from their inventory, state of the art materials, and entrepreneurial thinking, Pioneer embarked on this mission. The result of this endeavor raised the bar of the Mustang as it was known at the time. In 1995, after building two “P51-D” and two “P51-TF” aircraft, a business decision was made to separate the restoration and maintenance side of the business from the parts business. The result was the formation of Square One Aviation. This now allowed Pioneer Aero Service to concentrate only on the manufacture and selling of new and surplus parts.
Utilizing the standards established at Pioneer, Square One Aviation continued to establish itself as one of the premier facilities involved in the restoration and maintenance of Mustangs. By 2003 Elmer decided to retire and sold Square One Aviation to long time business acquaintance Ross Anderson. Unfortunately, in July 2004, Ross’s dream to continue Square One Aviation’s success was cut short when he was killed in his Harman Rocket. With the untimely passing of its new owner, Square One Aviation ceased operation in October 2004.
We continue to supply an inventory of original North American “New Surplus”, “As Removed” and “New Manufactured” parts. All new “D” manufactured parts are made to the original North American drawings and the “TF” dual control manufactured parts are made to the TEMCO drawings. Certifications are kept on hand for each part manufactured, so you can be assured you are getting only quality and airworthy parts. We also stock many specialty items, which are not found in the parts manual. Our Mock Gun Kit gives you the look of six .50 caliber wing guns while leaving the gun bays open for storage. The Stainless Steel Hydraulic Line Kit provides an eye-catching set of wheel well hydraulic and brake lines. We also carry everything you might need for fabric furnishings. We can even provide a custom order, which may be needed by our customer.
Additionally, Pioneer has increased it’s involvement in the business of converting the “D” model mustang to the dual control “TF” through the acquisition of the “TF” fuselage fixture and tooling from Square One Aviation. This combination of a fuselage fixture, sheet metal and parts tooling and an inventory of finished parts means that Pioneer Aero Service can become a significant asset to a customer interested in doing a conversion to a dual control “TF” Mustang. Pioneer continues to operate today as your “One Stop Mustang Shop” for all your part requirements to keep both the “D” model and the dual control “TF” Mustangs flying. Even though Bret Ward has partially retired after 20 years at the helm, he does so with confidence in Ginny‘s over 12 years and Greg’s over 7 years experience and training.
With Ginny in control and supported by Greg, Pioneer Aero Service continues to maintain one of the world’s largest supply of parts, with a commitment to providing quality parts available with prompt and friendly service. Customer satisfaction is Pioneer Aero Service number one goal.
As we look forward, Pioneer Aero Service continues its commitment to being your ”One Stop Mustang Shop” for both the “P51-D” and the “P51-TF” model Mustang.