Anyone for a Speed Record?

File your flight plans and start your engines. . .

I wrote an article with the same title in the February, 1968, issue of Air Facts. In 1967, I had investigated setting an officially sanctioned (by the National Aeronautic Association) speed record. It would have been complicated and expensive so I dropped the idea.

Air Facts Speed RecordsI kept thinking about it, though, and decided that Air Facts would sponsor an unofficial and informal way for pilots to claim speed records. In less than two years over 500 speed records were claimed. Now we intend to see if that level of interest exists 44 or 45 years later.

The old speed records were based on notarized statements of pilots about their flights. Today, we can use information from FlightAware to document claimed records. All you have to do to claim one is follow the relatively simple rules that follow.

To get the old program started I enlisted the help of my best and oldest friend, Rowland Bedell.  (Among other things, we served together in the Cub Scouts during WW-II.) He would set the first record, flying the Air Facts Turbo Twin Comanche, with me along to see if the plan for the program was easy to follow.

The city pair selected was Washington and Chicago. The airports were Montgomery County Airpark (GAI), near DCA, and Chicago Midway (MDW). The date was January 5, 1968, so it takes little imagination to guess the trip to Chicago was a lot slower than the trip back to GAI.

Air Facts speed record
The first Air Facts Speed Records were set by Rowland Bedell.

The wind was blowing but we had a smooth trip to MDW, IFR at 6,000 feet. The trip back was a fast hoot at Flight Level 190. Higher would have been faster but even in January the Turbo Twin Comanche engines were totally fickle about running hotter the higher they were flown.

Those first two records were recorded as follows:

City to City Speed records 

(Filed with and recorded by Air Facts, Inc.)

236-420 Horsepower Aircraft

  • 1/5/68  Rowland Bedell, M.D. Washington to Chicago  4:14 144.5 mph
  • 1/5/68  Rowland Bedell, M.D. Chicago to Washington  2:10 282.5 mph

We were not doing knots at the time but even converted to knots, that was a fast trip back.

Using FlightAware information means that all flights have to be on IFR flight plans this time around. Most were last time, but some were VFR which won’t be possible now.

Most of the over 500 records that were recorded were for flights flown in the normal course of traveling, for business or for pleasure. Some, though, were for flights flown solely for the purpose of setting an Air Facts Speed Record. Hey, we like to do everything we can to promote the use of airplanes. At the conclusion of this, after the rules, we’ll present the first of the “new” Air Facts Speed Records so that you can see the format and the information we’ll be presenting. We will run bios and pictures with some of the records so go fly and maybe you’ll get your name and picture in Air Facts and set a record that all your friends might try to beat.

Submit your speed record to: editor@AirFactsJournal.com

Rules

  1. You can’t be employed by an aviation magazine, aviation association, aircraft/avionics/equipment manufacturer, dealer or distributor or an advertising agency serving an aircraft manufacturer. Airline flights are not eligible. The purpose of this is to reserve the competition strictly for the general aviation consumer.
  2. The airplane must be licensed in the Normal, Utility or Experimental category, and must be at or below maximum gross weight at take-off (no ferry tanks). All Federal Aviation Regulations must be obeyed.
  3. An IFR flight plan must be filed for the flight, and within 48 hours after landing the pilot must submit via email to editor@airfactsjournal.com the following: date, pilot’s name, aircraft type, N-number, departure and destination airport. Please include a photograph and brief bio of the pilot.
  4. The flight must be a non-stop between any two of the cities in the list below (separate records will be kept each way—i.e., Chicago to Washington and Washington to Chicago will be two separate records). The groundspeed will be determined by dividing the total flight time (as reported by FlightAware.com) by the total mileage. The mileage between the cities will be determined by Air Facts, using FlightAware.com. The airports used may be any normally considered to serve the city in question. The major terminals need not be used. If there is any doubt in your mind about an airport you plan to use, drop us a line.
  5. The airplane must be in one of the below horsepower categories. That’s total horsepower. In other words a Baron with two 260 engines would have 520 total horsepower and would be in the 421-800 category.

Horsepower classes

  • 0-185 hp
  • 186-235 hp
  • 236-420 hp
  • 421-800 hp
  • Unlimited/Turbine

Cities for Air Facts record flights

  • Atlanta, GA (ATL)
  • Billings, MT (BIL)
  • Boston, MA (BOS)
  • Cincinnati, OH (CVG)
  • Cleveland, OH (CLE)
  • Chicago, IL (MDW)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DAL)
  • Denver, CO (DEN)
  • El Paso, TX (ELP)
  • Kansas City, MO (MKC)
  • Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
  • Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
  • Memphis, TN (MEM)
  • Miami, FL (MIA)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP)
  • New Orleans, LA (MSY)
  • New York, NY (LGA)
  • Oklahoma City, OK (OKC)
  • Orlando, FL (MCO)
  • Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
  • Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
  • Portland, OR (PDX)
  • Raleigh-Durham, NC (RDU)
  • St. Louis, MO (STL)
  • Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
  • San Francisco, CA (SFO)
  • Seattle, WA (SEA)
  • Washington, DC (DCA)
  • Wichita, KS (ICT)

First “new” Air Facts Speed Record

Jim ZimmermanRoute: Cincinnati to New York
Actual route: LUK-CDW
Horsepower class: Unlimited/Turbine
Airplane: Pilatus PC-12
Pilot: Jim Zimmerman
Date: 6/3/12
Distance flown: 498 nm
Time en route: 2:02
Speed record: 244.9 knots

About the pilot: Jim Zimmerman has been a pilot for over 40 years, and has owned everything from a Cessna 170 to his current Pilatus PC-12. A retired retail executive, he is based at Lunken Airport (LUK) in Cincinnati, OH.

22 Comments

    • The rules, and the contest, are based on the 1968 version. Homebuilts were hardly a factor then. If there should be enough support for hombuilts today, we would consider including them.

      • We discussed this and are adding Experimental to the rules. Thanks, Sam, for bringing this to our attention.

  • I’d like to participate. I live just south of Boston. However, does my flight have to take-off from Boston to qualify? There is only one airport in Boston (Logan) and it is too busy for my single engine Beech 23. Can I start timing when over the Boston VOR? Can I use a smaller airport outside the city?

    • You can use any airport in the Boston area. If it is served by the Tracon at Boston or if it is identified in Wikipedia as being in the Boston area, it would be eligible.

  • Why DCA? I hope this doesn’t encourage any GA pilots to actually try to fly there. It’s inside the SFRA/FRZ

    • Mike, we just use that as the abbreviation for the DC area. You could use any local airport–JYO, HEF, IAD, etc.

  • We intentionally bought a slow airplane and we cruise at only 60% power so that we can have time to really see and enjoy the country we are flying over. We are not the slightest bit interested in setting speed records but rather “slow” records. Our average groundspeeds are below 100 kts.

    Paul and Sharyn Richardson
    N63PR

  • Interesting Idea Richard,

    I have made three non stop flights between Palo Alto and our home at Downers Grove, Illinois (LL22) in our 300 HP V35B Bonanza. No doubt will do so again. I was wondering if LL22 would qualify as a Chicago airport? We are a private airport 11.5 NM west/southwest of MDW.

    Next time I make that trip I will file IFR if practical. Will it count?

    Happy Skies,

    Old Bob

  • Hi Scott & Jim:

    The list of cities is from the 1968 program. Nobody mentioned DET at that time. Adding it does fill a hole so we have done so. We are going to leave the list alone for a while after doing that so if your favorite is still missing we are sorry about that.

  • Where will the data for each city-city and class be posted for review? II may have missed it, but didn’t see it in the article.

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