Upon his return from Europe, Gentile made the obligatory War Bond Tours, flying around the country in a P-51D painted to represent his original Shangri-La.
13 April 1944: Perhaps the most famous Mustang crash of all, Capt. Don Gentile's Mustang Shangri La (VF-T, 43-6913) is seen in a field with a broken back. Returning from the last mission of his tour, Gentile meant to provide the assembled photographers with a memorable low pass for their cameras. Instead, his prop struck the ground and it took all the flying skills Gentile could muster to clear the press people and put the kite down in a vacant field.
Gentile was performing for a group of newspaper and newsreel reporters in his Mustang. Gentile made repeated high speed passes for the cameras, becoming more aggressive with each attempt. His old daredevil recklessness got the better of him, and he plowed the Mustang into the mud, destroying it in the process, though somehow wounding only his pride. The 4th Fighter Group’s commanding officer, the equally legendary Don Blakeslee, was so incensed by Gentile’s actions that he grounded him on the spot and sent him back to the USA. For him the war was over…