29th of May 1951
On this day in aviation history a P-51 Mustang, piloted by Capt. Charles Blair (US Navy) lands at Fairbanks (FAI), Alaska. Nothing special you would think, but this aircraft came from Bardufoss (BDU), Norway. Making it the first single-pilot, single-engine flight over the North-Pole. The distance of 3375 miles was flown non-stop in 10 hours and 29 minutes at an average speed of just below 280 knots.
This was not the first record-breaking flight Capt. Charles Blair made.
The P-51C being refuelled prior to the Noth-Pole crossing
In 1950 Pan American World Airways purchased a Mustang for Blair so he could attempt to break records in long-distance flying. It was A P-51C fitted with long-range fuel tanks, which had previously won the Bendix Trophy air race several times. .
The first record he broke was from New York to London. 3478 miles in 7 hours and 48 minutes, reaching an average speed for the flight of more the 387 knots! (Thanks to the jet-stream for some extra speed!)
Blair resigned from the Navy in 1952 and joined the US Air Force Reserve in April of 1953. He would continue to fly extreme flight, some examples are:
1956 he led a flight of three F-84s across the Atlantic, relying on mid-air refuelling
1959 he led a flight of two F-100 Super Sabres nonstop from England to Alaska.
He would be awarded several medals and rewards for his aviation achievements. He lost his life in a crash at the age of 69 on the 2nd of September 1978 in a plane crash.