Published in the June 1954 Issue of Naval Aviation News
Author & Photographer: Unknown

Not once, not twice, but three times within the space of a brief 99 seconds of flying time, three Navy jet pilots set a trio of new unofficial speed records for a cross-country flight.

The pilots from VF-21 at NAS Norfolk, flying carrier-based Cougar F9F-7 planes, were on a routine training flight. LCdr F. X. Brady, Ltjg. J. C. Barrow and Lt. W. Rich had made no preparations to establish a new mark when they took off from NAS San Diego for NAS New York. The first indication came when an officer in Operations called LCdr. James Fuller in the Command Liaison Office at New York and asked what the existing transcontinental record was.

When he was told that Col. W. M. Millikan had set a record on four hours, eight minutes and five seconds, the Operations officer informed Fuller that a flight plan had been filed on the West coast which estimated it would take four hours to be over the New York air station.

The 2,430-mile, non-stop flight was facilitated when the fliers took on 750 gallons of fuel in four minutes from a Savage tanker while flying at 200 knots over NAS Hutchinson. The pressurized cockpits permitted the pilots to fly the "jet stream," a phenomenon which consists of high-speed winds encountered usually at altitudes above 30,000 feet. It helped tremendously.

The pilots flew between 40,000 and 45,000 feet and averaged 645 miles per hour. At times they reported over 700 knots.

LCdr. Brady began letting down over Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at a rate of 4,000 feet per minute. The three Navy men reported the flight as "uneventful and routine," after landing at NAS New York. They said they rolled "poker-dice" to determine their order of take-off and which of the three Cougars each would fly.

LCdr. Brady, the swiftest, made the flight in three hours, 45 minutes, 30 seconds; only one minute 19 seconds faster that Ltjg. Barrow who took three hours, 46 minutes, 49 seconds; and less than two minutes faster than Lt. Rich who required three hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds.

Barrow might have bettered Brady's record had he not been delayed for a few minutes at NAS Hutchinson. Brady and Rich were refueled first by the AJ tanker. Then it had to land to refuel itself in order to resume its position "on station."

As Barrow arrived over Hutchinson, he was a minute-and-a-half ahead of Brady's time, but the tanker was still climbing up to the 25,000-foot level, the altitude at which the pilots were to refuel. Borrow went down to meet the plane and refueled at 16,000 feet.

That broke Barrow's chance to bettering Brady's record. The time it took him to maneuver to a rendezvous with the tanker and climb back up to his altitude cost him approximately four precious minutes in his flight.

The prospect of dinner on the East coast after a bite of brunch on the West coast pleases the space-eating jet pilots as they pose happily after New York arrival.

Record setting Navy pilots Ltjg. J. C. Barrow, Lt. W. Rich, and LCdr F. X. Brady stand beneath the refueling tube of the plane Brady flew. This was prior to 2,438- mile dash from west to east.

Trio roars over NAS New York flying almost too fast to be stopped by camera.

Left to Right: Ltjg. Borrow, LCdr Brady and Lt. Rich.

Note; Lt. Rich was a member of the Blue Angels 1952-1953 teams.