FOUNDER SPOTLIGHT: COL. JOHN A. MACREADY

John Arthur Macready — the first and only person to win the coveted Mackay Trophy three times — never backed down from a challenge. Whether it was setting records in high altitude or endurance flights, being the first person to make a parachute jump from a plane at night, flying the first non-stop transcontinental flight, or even coming up with the idea of Ray Ban Aviator sunglasses, Macready achieved these feats and more.

The Daedalians are proud to feature Macready, Founder Member 469, in the Founder Spotlight.

(Above: Macready, right, walks with Lt. Oakley Kelly and Orville Wright at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio.)

“Honor is its own reward. There is plenty of glory in connection with flights of this nature, and considerable satisfaction in doing one’s duty as a soldier and accomplishing a feat considered by many to be impossible.”

Col. John A. Macready

Oct. 10, 1887 - Sept. 15, 1979

Aviation Achievements of Daedalian Founder Member 469

Aug. 3, 1921: Macready takes off from McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio, on the first demonstration of crop dusting by plane. It was a joint venture between the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Army Signal Corps. Macready flew a modified Curtiss JN4 Jenny to spread lead arsenate to eliminate catalpa sphinx caterpillars near Troy, Ohio. Coincidentally, the first commercial crop-dusting planes were owned by Daland Crop Dusting, which was co-founded by Macready’s friend and fellow test pilot, Lt. Harold R. Harris. (Read more about Harris in a letter of Macready’s from 1966.)

Sept. 28, 1921: Macready flies a turbo-charged Packard Lepère L USA C. II biplane to a world record altitude of 40,800 feet … in an open cockpit. He receives the 1921 Mackay Trophy for this accomplishment.

Oct. 5-6, 1922: With Lt. Oakley G. Kelly, the two set the world’s flight endurance record at San Diego, California – 35 hours, 18 minutes. They pioneer the use of inflight refueling from another aircraft. Macready and Kelly receive the 1922 Mackay Trophy – Macready’s second in a row.

May 2-3, 1923: Macready and Kelly make the first non-stop transcontinental flight. They leave Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, and fly to Rockwell Field in San Diego, California, in 26 hours, 50 minutes. Their plane, the Fokker T-2 A.S. 64233, is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. For this accomplishment they receive the 1923 Mackay Trophy. Macready remains the only person to have ever received the award three times.

June 13, 1924: Makes the first night parachute jump when his aircraft engine dies on his approach to McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio.

1968: Enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

1976: Inducted into the San Diego Air & Space Museum Hall of Fame.

2010: Inducted into the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame.

Read the front page article from

The San Diego Union, May 4, 1923

“San Diego Fliers Soar Home From Atlantic to Pacific in 27 Hours”

From left: Oakley Kelly, Henry. H. “Hap” Arnold, and John Macready.

An airplane – any airplane – is absolutely useless unless its flying characteristics are known. What pilot would take a plane into the air without knowing its stalling speed, its good traits, its idiosyncrasies? Beyond this, its performance levels must be known before any profitable use can be made of the machine: how high and how fast can it fly, yes, but also its best climbing speed, its most useful altitude, its load-carrying ability, its dependability in flight.

As long as the United States has had military airplanes, it has needed skilled test pilots. In the very earliest days, the nation’s entire air force consisted of two Wright biplanes and a handful of officers and men in the tiny Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. These stalwart airmen did their own testing and maintenance, and often taught each other how to fly. World War I, and the sudden realization that European nations were far ahead in aeronautics, speedily brought an end to this comfortable arrangement.

In 1914, the Army set up its first dedicated aeronautical research and development (R&D) establishment at North Island, in San Diego. Before World War I had ended, it transferred the function to McCook Field at Dayton, Ohio, and set up an impressive aviation engineering laboratory. There, working from McCook’s infamously short 1,000 foot grass runway, some 12 to 15 Army test pilots flew development and evaluation missions and conducted major research projects as well. Lieutenants Jimmy Doolittle, John Macready and Harold Harris were among these aviation pioneers – some of the very best pilots in the business.

— From “The Early Years,” U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, AFD-131008-020

Click on any of the images below to view the complete documents in pdf format

In this letter to the editor of the Daedalus Flyer written on Dec. 7, 1965, Colonel Macready writes that the high-altitude experimental flights he participated in “paved the way for the present entry into space.” He added that the “Air Force should get some credit for this first space work. It was the start of what has grown into a big thing. It is forgotten.”

Colonel Macready wrote a 3-page letter to the editor of the Daedalus Flyer on Sept. 16, 1966, in regard to a request for more information on the Barling Bomber, and praised the efforts of those involved in the project. “Lieut Harold R. Harris, who was an outstanding test pilot, especially with big airplanes worked with Barling during the assembly and flew the initial test flight of the Barling Bomber. He did a remarkable job with this huge one man airplane, a job which has never received publicity or recognition.”

The Daedalians sent out a news release about Colonel Macready’s visit to San Antonio, where he would be honored by Stinsons Flight 2 at their Founder Member event at Fort Sam Houston on April 17, 1969. Macready was the officer in charge of flying at Brooks Field in 1918, and wrote the first two books prepared for use in the training of Army aviation cadets: “Manual of Office and Field Administration of an Air Service Flying School” and “The ‘All Thru’ System of Flying Instruction as Taught at Brooks Field.”

This article, “Pioneers at High Altitude,” was written by Robert E. van Patten and appeared in the April 1991 issue of Air Force Magazine, the official magazine of the Air Force Association. It includes this passage: “The aircraft was completely out of control. The speed of descent was so rapid that Lieutenant Macready was unable to adjust the engine and radiator to maintain cockpit heat. Because of this, his goggles iced over and as his plane fell to earth, he became weak, groggy, and effectively blind in his struggle to regain control.”

Click here to view this video of the

Barling Bomber, which John Macready

writes about in his letter above

 dated Sept. 16, 1966.

The McCook Field test pilots are shown in 1924. Lt. John Macready is in the back row, fourth from left. In front of him is Lt. Jimmy Doolittle. Read about them in “The First Test Pilots” by Stephen Joiner for Air & Space Magazine in November 2013.

Who gave Bausch & Lomb the original shape, tint and fit of the famous Ray Ban Aviator glasses? None other than John Macready. Learn about this accomplishment in “Who Made Those Aviator Sunglasses,” by Pagan Kennedy for the New York Times on Aug. 3, 2012.

A 1993 commemorative stamp from the Federated States of Micronesia honoring John Macready, Pioneer of Flight.

John Macready was born in Searchlight, Nevada, in 1887. He worked in the mines as a young man, and upon graduation from Stanford University in 1912, he came back home to “relax.” Instead, the people of Searchlight convinced him he should run for office. He ran and was elected twice, in 1914 and 1916, as the town’s justice of the peace.

The Fokker T-2 A.S. 64233 in which John Macready and Oakley Kelly make the first non-stop transcontinental flight on May 2-3, 1923, is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.

 

John Macready – Aviation Pioneer: At the Earth’s Ceiling

Sally Macready Wallace spent hours interviewing her late father for this book. She received a B.S. from the School of Aeronautical Engineering at Oregon State University and trained as a borate bomber pilot for aerial fire-fighting. She pilots a Mooney 201, and was one of the ferry pilots for a B-17 sent from Chico, California, to Barksdale Field, Louisiana. She is a hereditary member of the Order of Daedalians, a long-time member of the AOPA, and a current member of the Mooney Aircraft Pilots Association and the board of directors of the Castle Air Museum in Merced, Calfornia.

Through her work with the Macready Foundation, she has been active with the Smithsonian Institution, where her father’s Fokker T-2 is on display.

(Source: Amazon.com)