For many airplane enthusiasts, the term "warbird" invokes images of P-51 Mustangs, T-6 Texans and other American-made military classics. There is also a wide variety of lesser-known foreign aircraft that satisfy the warbird distinction. These metric machines have found favor with many American owners who appreciate the non-traditional attributes that only an imported warbird can provide. I recently spoke with the owner of a foreign warbird to better understand the benefits and challenges that these airplanes offer.
Flying For Good
Kimberly and Bill Mills are the driving forces behind Mills Aviation Charities (MAC), which provides scholarships for college students pursuing aviation-oriented degrees. A large part of the organization's outreach efforts involves flying its aircraft at various public events. I visited the organization's hangar in Florida to get a closer look at one of those airplanes, the Nanchang CJ-6.
The CJ-6 is a 2-seat, single-engine trainer that formerly served in the Chinese military. Now that it is a civilian airplane, the Mills' colorful Chinese warbird is one of the most photographed of the American-owned CJ-6s. The couple can be found in the MAC CJ-6 performing in airshows and flyovers across many states…often in formation with other CJ-6 owners. They even host an annual airshow at their home airport in Palm Coast, Florida.
If you fancy yourself an airplane aficionado but, you're not familiar with the CJ-6, don't feel bad. I felt the same way when I first stepped into the MAC hangar. I walked out with a much better understanding of the airplane and why it's so appealing to private owners.