Delta Pilot Showcases Restored Mustang at This Year’s Oshkosh

By John Perkinson, Senior Staff Writer
Quick Silver was on display in the Warbirds section of Wittman Regional Airport at this year’s EAA AirVenture.

One of the star attractions at this summer’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh was F/O Scott “Scooter” Yoak (Delta), who flew in the annual event’s featured air shows. While the solo aerobatic performer pilots a variety of vintage fighters, he’s best known for flying his North American P-51D Mustang Quick Silver.

“This particular P-51 is a celebration of our nation’s armed forces,” Yoak said, noting that the entire paint scheme—from the black and white stripes on the wings to the feathers at the back of the canopy—serves as a tribute to the veterans of World War II. He has more than 1,000 hours flying Mustangs and holds a surface level aerobatic waiver, allowing him to fly his aircraft at “unrestricted” altitudes during his public aerial performances.

At this year’s Oshkosh, Yoak flew the legendary Mustang on several occasions. He also piloted two Corsairs—Korean War Hero, a Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair, during the event’s two nighttime air shows and the Warbird Heritage Foundation’s Vought FG-1D Corsair Glenview for some of the afternoon demonstrations.

At airshows around the United States, Yoak showcases Quick Silver’s ability to roll, loop, and climb.

The 70th anniversary of EAA AirVenture highlighted the inverted gullwing fighter, in part, to recognize its role in last year’s major motion picture Devotion. The film drew special attention to Korean War Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Hudner, his wingman Jesse Brown (the first Black U.S. naval aviator), and the Corsairs they flew during the conflict. In addition to showing the movie at Wittman Regional Airport’s outdoor fly-in theater, AirVenture attendees had the chance to check out a new Corsair display in the nearby EAA Aviation Museum.

Yoak has been a regular on the air show circuit since 2008, performing challenging maneuvers in Quick Silver like the 16-point roll, pausing precisely every 22.5 degrees to the delight of audiences around the United States. In addition to solo performances, he participates in large-scale formation flying. Yoak also occasionally flies in tandem with Jim Tobul, the owner and regular flyer of Korean War Hero. He and Tobul have developed a dynamic formation flight routine with their Mustang and Corsair that they call the “Class of 45.”

Like Father…

Yoak was destined to be an aviator like his father, Bill. The elder Yoak was a stunt pilot, special-effects designer, and Screen Actors Guild member, working in the television and movie industry. “I grew up watching him restore and fly planes for the various shows he was a part of. There were always warbirds around,” he remarked.

Bill had more than 39 different vintage aircraft listed on his license and flew Corsairs for the NBC television series Baa Baa Black Sheep (retitled Black Sheep Squadron for its second season). The popular World War II comedy/drama starred Robert Conrad and ran from 1976 to 1978. Bill later designed and fabricated helicopters used in the 1983 movie Blue Thunder, as well as the for the 1988 movie Rambo III, with Sylvester Stallone.

While in Israel filming Rambo III Bill acquired some P-51 parts and, soon after, began a long-term project with his son rebuilding what would become Quick Silver. The original aircraft was completed by North American Aviation at its Dallas, Tex., manufacturing plant on July 28, 1945. The current P-51’s exterior is made of all new metal, and the cabin includes updated radios and enhanced system safety features—in all, parts from more than 200 different Mustangs were assembled to rebuild the aircraft.

…Like Son

Yoak’s nickname, “Scooter,” came from a childhood baseball coach, and, he said, “Over the years, it stuck.” But the younger Yoak spent more time on the tarmac than on the baseball diamond and subsequently learned to fly at an early age.

While attending Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., he earned certificates for commercial single-engine and multiengine land, single-engine sea, flight instructor, and A&P mechanic. When not in class, the future ALPA member built his flight hours banner towing and flight instructing. He graduated with a major in aviation maintenance science.

Yoak later moved to West Virginia where he earned his inspection authorization and went to work for the family restoration and fabrication business. He also developed an interest in aerobatic flying.

F/O Scott Yoak (Delta) has more than 1,000 hours flying P-51 Mustangs.

“I have numerous years of performing under my belt,” commented Yoak, adding, “Prior to airline flying, my full-time occupation was warbird restoration mechanic and air show pilot. That was my bread and butter.” He observed that there was a time in his career when he was performing in 30-plus air shows a year, noting, “I put in the time to become one of the top performers in the country.”

In 2019, Yoak decided to apply his talents to airline flying. “I always had my eye on the airline world,” he said, adding that some of his friends encouraged him to begin with a regional carrier first, rather than dive directly into a mainline operation. Yoak became a pilot for Endeavor Air before later transitioning to Delta. “Flying for an airline was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my aviation career,” he remarked.

However, the Los Angeles, Calif.-based B-767 pilot can no longer maintain the grueling yearly performance schedule he once flew. “With a full-time airline schedule and the preparation air shows require, I can’t do more than a show a month,” he said.

Pursuing New Horizons

“Since my father passed away in 2013, I’ve wanted to translate my interests into some kind of a nonprofit effort,” Yoak said. “I’ve always secretly wanted to be an aviation museum curator or director—someone who could familiarize the public with classic aircraft and their importance.”

To that end, Yoak is in the process of becoming president of the Aviation Legacy Museum, which, once completed, will feature a 10,000-square-foot hangar at the Twin Lakes Airport in Aiken County, S.C. He noted that all the aircraft in this new facility, including Korean War Hero, which Tobul has agreed to park there since he lives nearby, will be airworthy. Yoak also has a few Texan T-6s, a Stearman, and a Convair CV-340.

While the museum will also serve as Quick Silver’s home base, Yoak hopes other warbird owners will park their aircraft there as well. Several have already expressed an interest in exhibiting or even donating air transports to the facility.

The decision to create a museum was motivated in part by his aircraft’s remarkable social media popularity. Quick Silver’s Instagram page has more than 43,000 followers, and Yoak hosts Q&A sessions on it to spotlight the aircraft and his experiences at air shows. He also hosts an aviation podcast, Airpower.

With a lifelong interest in aviation, Yoak is continuing the work and tremendous example his father set. In the air, on the ground, and online, he’s preserving the legacy of yesterday’s aviation and ensuring its contributions to the country—and the world—aren’t forgotten.

This article was originally published in the September 2023 issue of Air Line Pilot.

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