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A transcontinental flight commonly refers to, in North America, a non-stop passenger flight between an airport on the West Coast of the United States or Canada, and an airport on the East Coast of the United States or Canada, or, more generally, between any two airports at opposite, often coastal locations on a particular continent.
The first transcontinental flight across the United States[clarification needed] was made in 1911 by Calbraith Perry Rodgers in an attempt to win the Hearst prize offered by publisher William Randolph Hearst. Hearst offered a $US 50,000 prize to the first aviator to fly coast to coast, in either direction, in less than 30 days from start to finish. Previous attempts by James J. Ward and Henry Atwood had been unsuccessful.
Rodgers persuaded J. Ogden Armour, of Armour and Company, to sponsor the flight, and in return he named the plane after Armour's grape soft drink "Vin Fiz". Rodgers left from Sheepshead Bay, New York, on September 17, 1911, at 4:30 pm, carrying the first transcontinental mail pouch. He crossed the Rocky Mountains on November 5, 1911, and landed at Tournament Park in Pasadena, California, at 4:04 pm, in front of a crowd of 20,000 people. He had missed the prize deadline by 19 days. He was accompanied on the ground by a support crew that repaired and rebuilt the plane after each crash landing. The trip required 70 stops.
On December 10, 1911, he flew to Long Beach, California, and symbolically taxied his plane into the Pacific Ocean.
- 1911 James J. Ward, failed attempt
- 1911 Henry Atwood, failed attempt
- 1911 Calbraith Perry Rodgers start: September 17, 1911, at 4:30 pm; finish: November 5, 1911 
- 1912 (circa) Robert George Fowler
- 1923 First non-stop flight from Long Island, New York to Rockwell Field, San Diego by Lt. John Macready and Lt. Oakley Kelly in a Fokker T-2
- 1929 The Buhl Airsedan "Spokane Sun-God" was the first aircraft to make a non-stop US transcontinental round-trip flight on August 15, 1929 (Nick Mamer and Art Walker flew it from Spokane, Washington, to New York City and back between August 15 and 21, 1929, taking 120 hours 1 minute 40 seconds).
- 1930 Frank Hawks flew from San Diego to New York in a towed glider leaving San Diego March 30, 1930 and arriving in New York eight days later.
- 1932 First scheduled cross-country through passenger flights (no change of plane)
- 1933 Transcontinental passenger flights in as little as 20 hours on the Boeing 247.
- 1934 First three-stop airline flights (TWA DC-2s)
- 1946 First one-stop airline flights (United DC-4s and TWA Constellations)
- 1953 First sustained nonstop airline flights (TWA may have flown some LA-NY nonstops in 1947)
- 1957 First transcontinental flight to average supersonic speed. John Glenn flew from Naval Air Station Los Alamitos, California to Floyd Bennett Field, New York in 3 hours and 23 minutes.
Transcontinental air speed record
In-flight and on-ground time are counted after the earliest flights
|Year||Date||Time||Direction||Pilot||Aircraft||Notes and reference|
|1911||September 17, 1911||3 days, 10 hours, 14 minutes||East to West||Calbraith Perry Rodgers||Vin Fiz Flyer||The first transcontinental flight. It took fifty days (3 days, 10 hours, 14 minutes actual flying time). Rodgers made it in some seventy hops, flying a Wright biplane which was damaged and repaired so many times en route that nothing remained of the original machine at the finish but the drip pan and the vertical rudder.|
|1919||October 11, 1919||3 days, 3 hours, 5 minutes [permanent dead link]||East to West||Belvin W. Maynard||DH-4||On the first leg of the "Transcontinental Air Race of 1919" which saw 33 planes cross the U.S. with 8 completing the round-trip (out of 67 which began the trip). Nine deaths occurred during what was officially the U.S. Army's "Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test"|
|1922||September 4, 1922||21 hours, 19 minutes||East to West||Jimmy Doolittle||DH-4||Pablo Beach, Florida, to San Diego, California, with only one refueling stop |
|1923||May 2–3, 1923||26 hours, 50 minutes, 38.4 seconds||East to West||Lt John A. Macready and Lt Oakley G. Kelly||Fokker T-2||First nonstop transcontinental flight: Roosevelt Field, Long Island to Rockwell Field, North Island, San Diego. Longest straight-line distance covered nonstop until then|
|1924||June 23, 1924||20 hours, 48 minutes||East to West||Russell Maughan||Curtiss P-1 Hawk||First transcontinental flight "during hours of daylight". See also: Dawn-to-dusk transcontinental flight across the United States, New York City to San Francisco, average speed 128 miles per hour|
|1929||February 4, 1929||18 hours, 22 minutes||West to East||Frank Hawks||Lockheed Air Express||Los Angeles to New York City with mechanic Oscar Grubb|
|1929||June 27, 1929||19 hours, 10 minutes||East to West||Frank Hawks||Lockheed Air Express||New York City to Los Angeles|
|1929||June 28, 1929||17 hours, 36 minutes||West to East||Frank Hawks||Lockheed Air Express||Los Angeles to New York City|
|1929||August 15, 1929||120 hours, 1 minutes 40 seconds||West to East and East to West||Nick Mamer and Art Walker||Buhl Airsedan "Spokane Sun-God"||First non-stop transcontinental round-trip flight from Spokane, Washington to New York City and back|
|1930||April 20, 1930||14 hours, 45 minutes||West to East||Charles A. Lindbergh||Lockheed Sirius||Los Angeles to New York City.|
|1930||May 27, 1930||18 hours, 43 minutes||East to West||Roscoe Turner||Lockheed Air Express||New York City to Los Angeles with 3 passengers.|
|1930||Aug 13, 1930||12 hours, 25 minutes||West to East||Frank Hawks||Travel Air "Mystery S"||Los Angeles to New York City.|
|1931||September 4, 1931||11 hours, 16 minutes, 10 seconds||West to East||Jimmy Doolittle||1931 Laird Super Solution||Completed for a bonus prize after winning the inaugural Bendix Trophy race, Los Angeles to Newark, averaged 217 miles per hour |
|1932||August 29, 1932||10 hours, 19 minutes||West to East||Jimmy Haizlip||Wedell-Williams Model 44||Completed after winning the 2nd annual Bendix Trophy race.|
|1932||November 14, 1932||12 hours, 33 minutes||East to West||Roscoe Turner||Wedell-Williams Model 44||New York City to Burbank, California|
|1933||July 1, 1933||11 hours, 30 minutes||East to West||Roscoe Turner||Wedell-Williams Model 44||New York to Burbank, California|
|1933||September 2, 1934||10 hours, 2 minutes, 39 seconds||West to East||Roscoe Turner||Wedell-Williams Model 44||Burbank, California to New York|
|1936||January 13, 1936||9 hours, 27 minutes||West to East||Howard Hughes||Northrop Gamma ||Burbank, California to Newark, New Jersey. Hughes took off from Burbank, California, on January 13, 1936, en route to Newark, New Jersey, and a new cross-country record. He made the flight in 9 hours, 27 minutes, 10 seconds, and bettered Roscoe Turner's previous mark by 36 minutes. |
|1937||January 19, 1937||7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds||West to East||Howard Hughes||Hughes H-1 Racer||nonstop Burbank, California to overhead Newark Airport, New Jersey|
|1939||February 11, 1939||7 hours, ? minutes||West to East||Benjamin S. Kelsey||XP-38||7 hr 43 min March Field, California to overhead Mitchel Field, New York including 41 min on ground at Amarillo and Dayton|
|1945||January 9, 1945||6 hours, 4 minutes||West to East||Curtin L. Reinhardt||C-97 Stratofreighter||Seattle to Washington, D.C., average speed 0 mph |
|1945||May 1, 1945||5 hours, 40 minutes||West to East||Najeeb Halaby||[[ ]]||Muroc AFB to Patuxent River NAS, average speed 000 mph |
|1945||December 1945||5 hours, 17 minutes||West to East||Glen Edwards and Lt. Col. Henry E. Warden||XB-42 Mixmaster||In December 1945, Captain Glen Edwards and Lt. Col. Henry E. Warden set a new transcontinental speed record when they flew the XB-42 from Long Beach, California to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington DC (c. 2,300 miles) and in just 5 hours, 17 minutes, the XB-42 set a speed record of 433.6 mph (697.8 km/h).|
|1945||December 1945||5 hours, 27 minutes, 8 seconds||West to East||Col C. S. Irvine||Boeing B-29||Burbank, California to overhead Floyd Bennett Field, New York; average 450 miles/hour|
|1946||January 26, 1946||4 hours, 13 minutes, 26 seconds||West to East||Col W. H. Councill||Lockheed P-80||Long Beach, California to overhead La Guardia Airport, New York; nonstop, unrefuelled|
|1949||February 8, 1949||3 hours, 46 minutes||West to East||B-47 Stratojet||Larson AFB, Moses Lake, Washington to Andrews AFB near Washington DC, 607.8 mph average |
|1954||January 2, 1954||4 hours, 8 minutes, 5 seconds||West to East||Col Willard Millikan||North American F-86F||Los Angeles LAX to overhead New York Floyd Bennett; time includes stop for fuel at Offutt AFB|
|1954||March 30, 1954||4 hours, 24 minutes, 17 seconds||West to East||Joe DeBona||North American P-51C||Los Angeles LAX nonstop to New York Idlewild—still the prop record (560 mph)|
|1955||March 9, 1955||3 hours, 46 minutes, 33.6 seconds||West to East||Lt Col Robert Scott||Republic F-84F||Los Angeles LAX to overhead New York Floyd Bennett; two aerial refuelings|
|1957||March 23, 1957||3 hours, 39 minutes, 24 seconds||West to East||Douglas A3D?||Burbank CA to overhead Miami MCAS, FL|
|1957||May 19, 1957||3 hours, 38 minutes||West to East||N American F-100F||Palmdale CA to McGuire AFB, NJ|
|1957||July 16, 1957||3 hours, 23 minutes, 8.4 seconds||West to East||Major John H. Glenn, Jr., USMC||Vought F8U-1P Crusader||"Project Bullet" non-stop from NAS Los Alamitos, California to Floyd Bennett Field, New York at an average of Mach 1.1, despite three refuelings from AJ tankers during which speed dropped below 300 mph. Glenn's on-board reconnaissance camera recorded the first continuous panoramic photograph of the United States.|
|1957||November 27, 1957||3 hours, 7 minutes||West to East||Lieutenant Gustav Klatt||F-101 Voodoo||"Operation Sun Run" with 4 RF-101Cs each refuelled four times by KC-135s; Ontario, California to overhead Floyd Bennett Field, New York, 781.7 mph West to East leg, 721.8 mph roundtrip average |
|1961||May 24, 1961||2 hours, 47 minutes, 18 seconds||West to East||Lieutenant Richard F. Gordon, Jr., U.S. Navy||McDonnell F4H||Ontario, California to overhead Floyd Bennett Field, New York; three aerial refuellings|
|1962||March 5, 1962||2 hours, 1 minute, 39 seconds||West to East||Robert G. Sowers||Convair B-58||overhead Los Angeles to overhead New York; one aerial refuelling|
|1990||March 6, 1990||1 hour, 7 minutes, 53.69 seconds||West to East||Lt Col Ed Yeilding and Lt Col Joseph T. Vida||SR-71A Blackbird
|On delivery flight to the Smithsonian Institution, where the aircraft is now on display at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy center, this SR-71 set the current transcontinental air speed record. Yeilding and Vida crossed the west coast near Ventura, CA and, 2,404.5 miles later, crossed the east coast near Salisbury, MD averaging 2,124.51mph|
|2003||November 5, 2003||3 hours, 55 minutes, 12 seconds||East to West||Mike Bannister and Les Broadie||Concorde G-BOAG||Flying to museum at retirement of the aircraft, New York to Seattle  |
Junior transcontinental air speed record
For the junior record only in-flight time is counted at a certain speed
|1928||Richard James (aviator)||Travel Air||Previous "record" of 48 hours, set last year by 18-year-old Richard James, was spread over a month elapsed time.|
|1930||October 4, 1930||East to West in 23 hours, 47 minutes||Robert Nietzel Buck||Pitcairn PA-6 Mailwing||On October 4, 1930 Robert beat the junior transcontinental air speed record of Eddie August Schneider in his PA-6 Pitcairn Mailwing he named "Yankee Clipper". His time was 23 hours, 47 minutes of elapsed flying time. Robert said on February 6, 2005: "I was the youngest to fly coast to coast and that record still stands. I had my license at 16 and after that, they raised the minimum age to 17. With that change, no one could break my record."|
|1930||August 18, 1930||East to West in 29 hours, 55 minutes||Eddie August Schneider||Cessna||Leaving from Westfield, New Jersey on August 14, 1930 to Los Angeles, California in 4 days with a combined flying time of 29 hours and 55 minutes. He lowered the East to West record by 4 hours and 22 minutes. He then made the return trip from Los Angeles to Roosevelt Field, New York in 27 hours, 19 minutes, lowering the West to East record by 1 hour and 36 minutes. His total elapsed time for the round trip was 57 hours, 14 minutes.|
|1930||East to West in 32 hours ? minutes||Frank Goldsborough||Combined East to West and West to East in 62 hours and 58 minutes. |
Women's transcontinental air speed record
For the women's record, only in-flight time is counted
|1930||Ruth Nichols||13 hours, 21 minutes|
|1933||Amelia Earhart||13 hours, 7 minutes, 30 seconds|
|1934||Laura Ingalls||10 hours, 5 minutes|
- World record
- Dawn-to-dusk transcontinental flight across the United States
- Flight altitude record
- Transcontinental railroad
- "Flier, Seeking to Reach San Francisco, Lands at Calicoon Late in the Afternoon". New York Times. September 15, 1911. Retrieved November 25, 2010.
James J. Ward, who left New York for San Francisco Wednesday, flying for the W.R. Hearst $50,000 prize for a transcontinental flight, reached Callicoon, N.Y., a few miles from here, at 4:35 o'clock this afternoon. He covered 59 1–10 miles in 57 minutes, having left Middletown, N.Y., at 3:38 o'clock.
- "C. P. Rodgers' Aero Plunges into Surf at Long Beach. Hundreds See Tragedy. Hero of First Transcontinental Flight Victim of His Own Daring. When Lifted From Wrecked Machine His Neck Is Found to Be Broken. Birdman's Home in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Cousin of Lieut. Rodgers in Navy's Aerial Corps. Victim Author of Theory of 'Etherial Asphyxia.'". Washington Post. April 4, 1912.
Long Beach, California, April 3, 1912. Calbraith P. Rodgers, the first man to cross the American continent in an aeroplane, was killed here almost instantly late today, when his biplane, in which he had been soaring over the ocean, fell from a height of 200 feet and buried him in the wreck. His neck was broken and his body mangled by the engine of his machine.
- Pattillo, Donald M. (February 28, 2001). Pushing the Envelope: The American Aircraft Industry. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. p. 14. ISBN 9780472086719. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- "Fokker T-2". Collections. National Air and Space Museum. Archived from the original on March 11, 2016. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
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- Kinert 1967, p. 57
- The Flight of the Buhl Airsedan Spokane Sun-God first airplane to make a non-stop transcontinental round-trip flight
- Lockheed Sirius "Tingmissartoq", Charles A. Lindbergh National Air and Space Museum
- Kinert 1967, p. 70
- "Travel Air (Model R) "Mystery S" - USA". The Aviation History On-Line Museum. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
- "Behind the name of Captain Frank M. Hawks, in aviation's record book today is set down the time of 12 hours, 25 minutes, 3 seconds for an eastward transcontinental flight, the fastest ever flown by man over the distance of 2,500 miles." Newark Advocate, Newark, Ohio, August 15, 1930; Valley Stream, New York; August 14, 1930 (Associated Press)
- Glines 1995, p. 154
- Glines 1995, p. 155
- Glines 1995, p. 159
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