Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumPioneers of Flight

Military Aviation

First Nonstop Transcontinental Flight

Macready and Kelly with the Fokker T-2

Macready and Kelly with the T-2. During the flight, Kelly handled the takeoff and Macready the landing, and the pilots exchanged positions at the controls five times during the flight.

U.S. Army Air Service pilots Lt. John A. Macready and Lt. Oakley G. Kelly made the first nonstop transcontinental flight on May 2—3, 1923, in the T-2 transport. They took off from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, and landed at Rockwell Field, San Diego, 3,975 kilometers (2,470 miles) and just under 27 hours later. During the flight, Macready and Kelly faced flying over unknown territory at night and through storms and rain for over half the flight.

The Army Air Service approved the flight to test the capability and endurance of Macready and Kelly, the new T-2 transport, and the Liberty engine. The two pilots and the T-2 also demonstrated the potential of military and commercial aircraft as practical long-distance technologies.

Macready, Kelly and the T-2

Macready, Kelly, the T-2, and the fuel needed for the transcontinental flight.

Who Were Macready and Kelly?
Macready set a world altitude record and was the Army's leading test pilot. Kelly helped originate the idea for the transcontinental flight. With few navigational instruments, they relied on dead reckoning to cross the United States.

The Fokker T-2
In December 1920, the U.S. Army Air Service contracted the Netherlands Aircraft Company, under the leadership of the dynamic Anthony H. G. Fokker, to manufacture a single-engine military transport based on the company's Fokker F.IV airliner. Designed by Reinhold Platz, the T-2 featured the same plywood cantilever wing and tubular steel fuselage found on the F.IV and the highly successful Fokker fighters of World War I. The design incorporated the Air Service's standard power plant, the Liberty engine.

Because the airplane could lift heavy loads and could be easily modified, the Air Service chose it to attempt the first nonstop transcontinental flight.

The Air Service received the transport in June 1922 and designated it the Air Service Transport 2, or T-2. It is known more widely by its unofficial name as the Fokker T-2.

1923 Fokker T-2 in Pioneers of Flight

Look Inside Fokker T-2 Front Cockpit


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QuickTime VR panorama created from actual cockpit photography.

Look Inside Fokker T-2 Rear Cockpit


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QuickTime VR panorama created from actual cockpit photography.

Wingspan: 24.3 m (79 ft 7in)
Length: 15 m (49 ft 2 in)
Height: 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
Weight, gross: 4,922 kg (10,850 lb)
Top speed: 177 km/h (110 mph)
Engine: Liberty V-12, 423 hp
Manufactured: Netherlands Aircraft Co., Veere, Netherlands, 1922

Transferred from the U.S. War Department
More about the Fokker T-2

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