John Macready

QUESTION:  John Macready is the only man to ever win the Mackay Trophy three times.  Who was the trophy named after?
A)  Hal Mackay
B)  Clarence Mackay
C)  Allan Mackay
D)  Amelia Earnhardt

This week, the American Treasure Tour blog has been dedicated to honoring a photograph.  From left to right, we have already discussed the lives and careers of Al Johnson, Orville Wright, and Luzern Custer.  We dedicate today's entry to the man on the far right - John Macready. It is sometimes strange how some pioneers are celebrated long after their accomplishments while others are lost to time. Charles Lindburgh lives on in our memory as the first man to fly solo and nonstop from the United States to Europe; however, few people remember John Macready today despite his daring acts in the early days of aviation. His life started on a 'normal' course.  Born in 1887, the San Diego native graduated from Stanford in 1912 with a degree in economics. He likely would have had a desk job if it hadn't been for World War I.  He enlisted in the army in 1917, and quickly received his pilot's wings (the Air Force would not become an independent branch of the military until after the second world war). He was so adept at flying that he became an important flight instructor.  He wrote a manual used to train pilots that would stay in print for many years (this was a full decade before the development of the Link Trainer flight simulator).

Macready moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1918 to fly at McCook Field. It was there where he conducted history-making flights. While there, he became the first pilot to spray pesticides from an airplane, becoming the first 'crop duster.' He also earned three of the highly prestigious Mackay Trophies, which were given out for "the most meritorious flight of the year." Modern recipients receive the coveted award from the U.S. Air Force and the National Aeronautic Association, while it has always come with high honors.  Macready won in 1921 for setting the altitude record - flying 34,508 feet in an open-cockpit biplane. In 1922 he won for setting an endurance record - he traveled 35 hours, 18 minutes and 30 seconds straight. And he won again in 1923 for making the first non-stop, coast-to-coast flight from Long Island, New York to San Diego, California in just under twenty-seven hours. The next year he also became an unwitting first. He became the first pilot to bail from a crashing plane in the dark of the night. His parachute got tangled in a tree during his descent and he needed to be cut down, but he was unharmed. That last event happened just a few months before our photo was taken. Macready served in Africa during World War II prior to retiring from the military, a highly distinguished flyer who would, in 1968, be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

ANSWER:  B)  Clarence Mackay.  A hugely wealthy entrepreneur in his day, he must have given substantial funds to the aviation industry in his day.