The National Aeronautic Association has been certifying aviation records since 1905, and here the NBAA Convention honors Dassault Falcon, Gulfstream and Hawker Beechcraft for recent record-setting feats. The top speed reached among the group was 599.63 mph, captured by a Gulfstream G150. This is a far cry from the first record certified–25 mph!– on an Oct. 23, 1906 flight by Alberto Santos-Dumont, the Brazilian aviation pioneer, in his 14-Bis, or Oiseau de proie (French for “bird of prey”), one-of-a-kind biplane.
Certifying the awards for the NBAA presentation was Art Greenfield, NAA director of contest and records. He joined NAA more than 20 years ago and has been certifying records ever since. Jonathan Gaffney, president of NAA, who will present [NOTE***] the records at NBAA, told AIN, “Art is really the records expert in the world, and not just in aviation. If other countries have a question about record setting, they come to Art.”
These days, Greenfield jokes that he now “flies just a desk,” but he became interested in aviation after a flight in a British Aircraft BAC-111 from New York to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. He said his most interesting flight was in a paraglider in Carson City, Nev., and he subsequently got his paraglider rating from the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (an NAA member). He learned to fly at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and was assistant chief flight instructor at an FBO at the Leesburg, Va. Airport. Then for several years he was chief pilot and general manager of the Navy Academy Training Program, in Fort Meade, Md., instructing Naval midshipmen in Piper Warriors. He learned of the opening for a director of records at NAA and joined the staff.
When we talked, Greenfield had just been to Spain for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Flying Rally Championship at Castellon Airport near Valencia, in which 16 countries and 45 teams participated. FAI is the international organization that coordinates all air sports, competitions and certification of all aviation and space records. NAA is the U.S. representative of FAI and one of its founding members and not only certifies records, but administers some of the U.S.’s most prestigious aviation awards, including the Collier Trophy and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy.
We’ve come a long way since that first record of 25 mph. Greenfield said the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the U.S. Air Force supersonic surveillance aircraft logged the fastest speed record ever set–1,193 mph–in 1976.–M.F.S.