Nazzi Hirani “A Custodian Of Aviation History”

(all images copyrighted to Jim Mumaw and Dave Budd)

3-11-2010 was a sad day; we lost a great man and in his  personal  words “A Custodian of  Aviation History”.  Nazzi Hirani left  this world doing what he loved to do. Fly his vintage Warbird  In the  skies over Arizona.  My time knowing Nazzi was short but he is a man I  will never forget meeting.

I first met Nazzi at an air show in AZ ,he was flying and displaying  his pride and joy a P-51 named SU SU. After trying to obtain some of my  trade mark low angle photos and having no luck with the rope that was  keeping people away from the aircraft. I was approached by an unassuming  generally nice man, who asked me if I would like to get some better  photos closer to SU SU.  I said I would, but thought the owner might not  want me to be in the secure area. The man stated the owner would be  happy to let me in and get some shots.  As I was shooting  photos this  man introduced himself as Nazzi Hirani, the owner of SU SU. After  shooting the aircraft for a while he introduced me to his wife and some  good friends that were attending the show.  He took all the time I  needed and was happy to see my enthusiasm toward the P-51. I asked him  if he had any more of the flyer he was handing out earlier in the day,  as the flyers had a cool photo and some specs about the aircraft. Nazzi  said he did not have any with him; however he had some in his friend’s  car and would be happy to go get me one.  He left the area and I was  alone with the aircraft, what a feeling being behind the rope and people  coming up and asking questions about the aircraft, I had to explain I  was only waiting on the owner. It was a cool feeling none the less.

This elation went on for about a half hour or so and I did not know  where he went?   Nazzi finally returned and handed me the photo spec  sheet, I jokingly asked how far the car was and he said in the outer  most parking lot. Wow I was really taken back this man who I just met,  who owns a real P-51 went out of his way for me.  I will never forget  that.

We exchanged cards and I explained to him that my brother Steve is a  Radio and TV host known as “Dr Sky” covering  aviation events and  topics  around the world . I asked if  I could give his contact info to  my brother for a possible interview about his P-51, he was really  excited about a future interview. He then invited my brother and I to  visit his home and hanger sometime in the near future.

SU SU being once owned by former astronaut and Commander of Apollo 8  Frank Borman would make a great story for my brother’s interview.  The  aircraft used to be based out of Las Cruces, NM in the mid 90’s. Las  Cruces was my home for many years and I remember stories about a P-51  out at the field, this only made my interest in SU SU grow.

A date was set and a few months later my brother and I went to see  Nazzi  at his  home, driving into Stellar Air Park is an experience. The  field was once so far out I rarely visited, now the field is in the  middle of the sprawling city of Chandler and surrounded by all sorts of  business and restaurants. Not a place you would expect to find many war  birds, we did spot a few on the way in.

Mrs. Hirani welcomed us at the door and asked if we wanted anything  to drink, both she and Nazzi are the kindest people. She informed us  that Nazzi was in the hanger and to turn right at the end of the long  hallway, as a left turn would land us in the washroom.  When I opened  the door to the hanger WOW it was like stepping back in time Nazzi was  working on the Beech Staggerwing and a T-6 was behind the Beech.  SU SU  took up a private area in on the left just below a huge full color mural  of it in flight on the wall. Nazzi gave us a tour of all the aircraft  as he and my brother spoke about a planning a future interview.

We were with him for a few hours and he never tired of our constant  question about this and that.  One question I asked was how it felt to  own a P-51,he stopped me and said, “I own it on paper, but history owns  her, I am a custodian of aviation history” he told me someday someone  else may own her. I am only a custodian keeping a great piece of history  alive.  With that we planned to meet again and conduct an interview and  photo shoot, I so wanted to get out on the end of the runway and shoot  some low fast take off, full prop blur,in your face stuff.  I know now  that will never happen but I still can’t believe it.  So To my friend  Nazzi Hirany  I only knew you for a short time but you made me feel as  if I had known you for a long time. Thanks for taking the time.

Gods Speed.. Fly High in the Kingdom of Heaven.

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941

Here is a post  I received  from a guy whow had the pleasure of meeting and working with Nazzi @ Luke AFB.

Comment:
I to knew Nazzi for a short time, but it felt like I had known him forever. I had the pleasure of gretting him everytime he flew into Luke AFB as I work Transient Alert there. First impression of this man is one that will set in my heart for the rest of my life. It has made me try to be a better man just being around him. He spoke to me the first time like he had known me for years. He was so supportive of our troops and to Luke AFB. I would like to post an email that he had sent to me a week ago. It shows his gratitude,kindness and unwavering gratitude to the people around him and to the US Military.

Mark,
Thanks for your warm welcome and know that it is always a pleasure and an honor for us to be invited to the AFB. Flying a P51 Mustang this day and age into a live AFB is unbelievable. SU SU, I must say is very beautiful and I concur with you as far as her being the most beautiful P51 around. I am also honored that you would like to fly with me and I shall do all I can to make that happen. However I have a friend that is flying in especially from SOCAL to fly with me into the base and a two time Thunderbird lead (from the mid seventies) scheduled to fly back with me on Saturday. He has been ill and just got out of the hospital after serious heart problems so I am not sure he will actually opt to fly. If that changes then you are most welcome to fly from the base to Stellar Air Park with me. Please arrange for someone to stand by to pick you up if that does happen. Know that if it does not happen this time I will be sure to let you in on the next one, which I am sure will happen soon.

I am just an average Jo, and this man was going to do something for me that he knew I really wanted to do. I was honored to know Nazzi and I am very saddened by his sudden departure. He will always be a part of my heart for the rest of my life.

Comment:
Such a tragic event. Nazi Harani  has been a friend of my family for many years. It is hard to find a more gracious and compassionate person in this world. I last saw him at the Cable Air Show this year. As usual, he loved sharing his planes with others, but Su Su was his pride and joy. He went out of his way for others, even if he did not know them. As long as there was a shared interest, Nazi would become excited and just start sharing information about his planes. At Cable in 2009, a woman with a blind young man were at the rope where Su Su was parked. Nazi walked over, introduced himself, and brought them under the rope, then spent the next hour leading them around the plane explaining each curve and surface. That was the type of man he was. I was lucky enough to get to sit behind Nazi in SuSu, what an experience. He was an excellent pilot. It was an honor to know Nazi Harani. He was humble, he was a gentleman, and he was our friend.

Thanks Nazi, for being part of our lives. We will miss you.

RSF, SGF, DSF

A Friend of mine, Nazzi Hirani was killed yesterday (3/11/10) when his P-51 “SU – SU” crashed into a hanger at P19.

The one thing that I will always remember that he said: He was only the custodian, not the owner of the aircraft. The plane was a piece of American History and it belonged to America.

He was very proud of his American Citizenship and was a genuinely thoughtful and caring person and I am sad to see him go. But, at least he died doing what he loved, and it was a quick end. We all should be so lucky.

SU – SU will not have a new owner as she is a total loss. Somehow though, I find it fitting. I don’t think would have had, a better “Custodian”; and maybe she knew it…

Within all of us is a varying amount of space lint and star dust, the residue from our creation. Most are too busy to notice it, and it is stronger in some than others. It is strongest in those of us who fly and is responsible for an unconscious, subtle desire to slip into some wings and try for the elusive boundaries of our origin. ~K.O. Eckland,

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

May you soar forevermore. Godspeed Nazzi

Your fellow Aviator – Brian Thomson

I don’t know if this will reach the family of Nazzi Hirani, but I wanted to give my condolences. My parents knew Nazzi, not very close, but knew him and spoke with him. From what my parents have told me of him, he was a very nice, tenderhearted, willing man. They live right next to Stellar Airpark and often can be found walking the runway with my daughter or riding their bikes on the runway. My dad in particular has spoken with Nazzi on several occasions and he was always willing to show my dad his planes, and talking to him about what ever. I pray that the family be comforted by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that during this hard time they turn to Jesus for that peace, comfort, and healing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

In Christ,
Emily

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