Coast-to-Coast Flyers Celebrate at Bolling
By 1923, the pilots of the Air Service were anxious to challenge the untamed skies and smash aviation records. On May 2, 1923, Lieutenants Oakley T. Kelly and John A. Macready flew their converted T-2 Fokker monoplane from Roosevelt Field, New York, to Rockwell Field, California. This non-stop, transcontinental flight took the aviators nearly 27 hours, averaging 94 miles per hour for the 2,520-mile journey.
Shortly after take-off, Macready made the first in-flight engine repair in Air Service history when he replaced a defective voltage regulator. When they landed in California the next day, they had proven that troops and supplies could be moved from coast to coast in one day. And, at the same time, the flyers had set a new record for the greatest distance made in a single cross-country flight.
The two lieutenants flew back to the east coast, making easy hops from town to town on their return trip. They arrived at Bolling Field on June 2, where they were received enthusiastically and honored later at the White House by President Warren G. Harding. The famous aviators might have made it to Bolling a little sooner had they not detoured through Lieutenant Kelly's hometown of Grove City, Pennsylvania, for a fly-by over his house and waving parents. Throughout their route and during their stay on Bolling, "It has been one continuous party," said Lieutenant Kelly.
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