Steve Watson’s World Speed Record

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) recently honored Steve Watson for his 2006 record-setting flight in an open cockpit biplane. The 2,577 mile airplane flight from Norwood to San Diego was completed in a record time of 40 hours and 31 minutes.

The National Aeronautic Association is the oldest national aviation organization in the United States. This non-profit organization is dedicated to advancing all forms of flight in the United States – from models and skydiving through to military fighters and commercial airlines. Membership of the NAA includes dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals, representing all aspects of American aviation. The NAA is the United States aviation record-keeper and anyone seeking to set or break a record needs to do so through the NAA.

Watson, aged 66, has been a private pilot for 47 years and had been planning the trip for some time. Using an online flight planning program and closely observing the weather and wind patterns for a number of weeks, assisted him in deciding on the best time to start his record-breaking quest. Watson took off in his WACA Classic YMF-5 open cockpit biplane from Norwood Airport at 7:48 a.m. on 27 September 2006 and landed in San Diego at about 9:00 p.m. the next day. His trip included fuel stops in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, but left no time for sight-seeing. Watson completed his cross-country flight approximately two hours within the minimum time requirement.

A number of pilots have crossed from west to east flying the same type of airplane, however, this is the first time the journey has been completed from east to west, making Watson the record holder. Steve Watson found that one of the more difficult aspects of the trip was dealing with the extremely cold night temperatures. He tried to overcome this problem by wearing multiple layers of clothing, as well as gloves and headwear.

This was not the first time that Steve Watson has traveled across the country, but his last trip was made on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He is already planning his next adventure – a barnstorming trip, stopping in every state except Hawaii.