Cavalier Mustang & Enforcer

Executive Mustang

Design changes

Going military again

Last of the breed: the PA-48 Enforcer


Serial numbers

3-Way drawings



Executive Mustang

After the Korean War and its service for the ANG, the Mustang was retired from duty, but not forever so it seems. The withdrawal from active duty saw hundreds of surplus F-51s released to the civilian market. A newspaper publisher named David B. Lindsay Jr. formed Trans Florida Aviation in 1957. His intention was to transform the ex-military F-51s into well equipped civilian business aircraft. Remember, at that time corporate aircraft like the Beech 18 and DC-3 could only manage about 180mph, so the idea was not that strange. The first Learjet prototype would fly only six years later.

The initial airframes were acquired from the RCAF, and later from the USAF, at surplus sales for as little as $950.00 USD. David Lindsay then flew or shipped them to his base in Sarasota, Florida where the aircraft were completely stripped, inspected, and reassembled.

N550D, the first Cavalier Mustang prototype (photo by Cavalier)These F-51s were initially named Trans-Florida Executive Mustang but were soon thereafter renamed Trans-Florida Aviation Cavalier Mustang. The first executive Mustang was built in 1958 and approximately 20 were produced and sold between 1958 and 1969.

The first Cavalier Mustang prototype was P-51D-25-NA 44-73411. After its service with the RCAF (serial 9286) it was sold on the surplus market in December of 1956 and was given a civil registration (N3993D). When the Mustang was acquired by Trans Florida Aviation, registration changed to N551D. After conversion to a Cavalier Mustang the registration was again changed N550D. It crashed during a test-flight on July 23rd, 1960.

In 1962 Trans-Florida was contacted by North American Aviation to construct a Cavalier Mustang for the use of famed test pilot Robert A. “Bob” Hoover as a demonstration aircraft (registered N2251D). Lee Atwood, the president of NAA, signed the purchase order for the new Cavalier. Hoover demonstrated the yellow Mustang in air shows and at military bases to promote the North American name until it was replaced by a second Cavalier, N51RH, in 1971.

In 1963 Trans-Florida received a contract to overhaul 31 aircraft from the Dominican Air Force (FAD). All of the work was done at Sarasota and the contract was completed 1965

Trans-Florida also did contract work for Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. Many of the cash poor countries paid for the work and parts by bartering their surplus P-51 airframes, which entered the growing Trans-Florida inventory. Lindsay also bought airframe parts and engines wherever he could find them. Many times the parts were purchased at auctions where the only other bidders were scrap metal dealers intent on melting the Mustang parts.

The Cavalier attracted enough attention to lead Lindsay to rename the company Cavalier Aircraft Corporation in 1967 and purchase the rights of the P-51 design from NAA.

In 1971, Lindsay sold the prototype and rights to Piper Aircraft where it was re-engined with the Lycoming YT-55 and dubbed the “Enforcer.” He moved on to assist Piper with the Enforcer.  The Cavalier Aircraft Corporation facilities in Sarasota were sold. 

Many Cavalier Mustangs still fly today, including many that returned to the US after being retired from foreign military service.


Design changes

As mentioned above, all work was done from obtained surplus P-51s (mostly P-51D models). The airframes were completely disassembled, the military equipment was stripped out and then they were rebuilt.

Modifications were:

  • An additional second seat behind the pilot (this also meant removal of the belly tank)

  • Extra fuel capacity was added to some models (ammo/gun bay fuel tanks and some models even had 110-gallon (416 liter) wingtip fuel tanks)

  • Modern avionics and instruments

  • A 14-inch (0,36m) taller stabilizer was installed like the P-51H

  • Canopy frame mounted cockpit fresh air vents

  • A flap step

  • Leather seats were installed and an overall comfort was created in the cockpit

  • Luggage bays were added in the fuselage

  • A civilian paint scheme

Cavalier MustangThe first aircraft was completed in 1958. The base price was $18,000 USD. The top of the line Mustang was $32,500 USD.

When the name changed to Cavalier in 1961, several models were offered. The model number indicated the range of the aircraft: 750, 1200 (as 750 with two additional 45-gallon internal wing tanks), 1500 (as 750 with two additional 63-gallon internal wing tanks), 2000 (110-gallon wingtip tanks) and 2500 (as 2000 with two addition 63-gallon wing tanks). They were all very similar, the main difference being additional fuel capacity. The 2000 and 2500 model Mustang had extra 110-gallon fixed wingtip fuel tanks.

Most executive Cavalier Mustangs were also outfitted as per user request, making most of them custom jobs to a certain degree.

N51DL (photo by Christophe Haentjens)
Above & below: originally manufactured as a P-51D-5A AF S/N 44-13257 (NAA S/N 109-26890), this Mustang was sold surplus in 1957. It was acquired by Trans Florida Aviation and converted into a Cavalier Mustang F-51D Mark II in 1967. It served as the Cavalier COIN demonstator and as a chase plane in the Enforcer project. It is one of the few Cavalier Mustangs that hasn't been converted back into stock wartime condition. To this date it is stil flown by David Lindsay's son Ed.N51DL (photo by Christophe Haentjens)

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