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First Transcontinental Nonstop Flight

DAYTON, Ohio -- First Transcontinental Non-Stop Flight exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- First Transcontinental Non-Stop Flight exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The first nonstop flight across the United States was made by Lts. John A. Macready and Oakley G. Kelly in a Fokker T-2 airplane. Taking off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, N.Y., on May 2, 1923, the heavily loaded T-2 flew westward through both fair and foul weather (much of it at night) without the benefit of any navigational aids other than a magnetic compass and some railroad maps.

Almost 27 hours later, the single-engine T-2 landed at San Diego, Calif., having flown a distance of 2,520 miles. For their successful nonstop flight across the U.S., Macready and Kelly were awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1923.

Macready was one of the most remarkable pilots in the U.S. Air Service during the 1920s. In addition to being awarded the Mackay Trophy for his 1923 T-2 flight, he was also awarded the trophy in 1921 for his high-altitude flights and again in 1922 along with Lt. Kelly for an endurance record of more than 35 hours in the T-2, making him the only pilot in history to win the award three times.

He was also the first pilot to make an emergency parachute jump at night, second to fly an aircraft with a pressurized cockpit, first to crop-dust with an airplane, and first to fly a photographic aerial expedition of the U.S.

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