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John A. Macready

Colonel U.S. Air Force

Thrice Mackay Trophy Winner

Pioneer Test Pilot


San Diego, California

14 October 1887 -


September 18, 1979

John Arthur Macready enlisted in the U.S. Air Service in 1917 and earned his pilot's wings at Rockwell Field, San Diego. While a flight instructor at the Army Pilot School at Brooks Field. Texas he authored a book, The All Thru System of Flying Instructions which became the basic manual for student pilots in the early years of U.S. military aviation.

During the postwar years, he was assigned to the Air Service Experimental Test Center at McCook Field, Ohio, and became one of the first elite group of engineering test pilots. Macready was the only pilot in history to win the Mackay trophy three times for his outstanding achievements in aviation. His first Mackay award in 1921 was for high altitude test flights and establishing a world record altitude of 40,800 feet. These flights, made at great personal risk, significantly advanced knowledge of high altitude physiology. Additionally, they aided in the development of turbo-supercharged engines that permitted both military and civil aircraft of later years to operate more efficiently at high altitude.

On October 5, 1922, Lt. Macready and his associate, Lt. Oakely Kelley established a world flight endurance record of 35 hours 18.5 minutes in the skies over San Diego. For this, they received the Mackay Trophy for 1922. This endurance flight led to experiments that produced the first air-to-air refueling system.

In May 1923, Lts. Macready and Kelley took off from Roosevelt Field, New York in a Fokker T-2 and landed some 27 hours later at Rockwell Field, San Diego after having completed the first nonstop U.S. transcontinental flight. For this, John Macready received his third Mackay Trophy.

Macready extended the horizons of aviation by being the first pilot to make an emergency parachute jump at night, the first pilot to dust crops from the air, and the first pilot to fly a pressurized aircraft. Recalled to the colors in 1941, he again served his country and the cause of aviation.

Invested 1976 in the International Aerospace Hall of Fame

From "These We Honor," The International Hall of Fame; The San Diego Aerospace Museum, San Diego, CA. 1984

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Updated: March 12, 2004