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1962 Bendix Trophy


On March 5, 1962, Capts. Robert G. Sowers (pilot), Robert MacDonald (navigator) and John T. Walton (defensive systems operator) flew from Los Angeles to New York City in the B-58A on display at the museum in only 2 hours 56.8 seconds, an average speed of 1,214.17 miles per hour. For this, they were awarded the Bendix Trophy for 1962 and each received the Distinguished Flying Cross. They broke two other speed records on the return flight -- New York to Los Angeles and for the roundtrip.

Twenty-eight years later on March 6, 1990, an Air Force crew flew an SR-71 Blackbird from Los Angeles to the east coast (Washington, D.C.) in just under 68 minutes, at an average speed of 2,124.5 mph.

The Bendix Trophy cross-country races, sponsored by the Bendix Corp., began in 1931. The award was established to encourage aviation progress. The winner of the first such race was Maj. James H. Doolittle, who flew from Los Angeles to Cleveland, Ohio, at an average speed of 223 miles per hour. The actual Bendix Trophy is nearly three feet tall and weighs approximately 100 pounds. Winners receive a smaller replica such as the one pictured at left and displayed near the B-58 in the museum.

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