Windsor pilot claims world speed record
By CHRIS SMITH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Racing pilot Will Whiteside of Windsor was walking on air Tuesday after reporting that he set an unofficial world speed record above the Bonneville Salt Flats.
“We are just tickled,” the 40-year-old Whiteside said after he and his race team pushed Steadfast, his World War II-era Russian Yak fighter, to what he said was a top speed of 416 mph on a three-kilometer (1.86 miles) course.
If verified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the keeper of aviation and speed records, Tuesday’s run will go down as the fastest ever by a propeller-driven airplane in weighing 5,000 to 6,600 pounds.
The speed record in that class currently is held by the late Jim Wright of Oregon, who reached 304 mph in 2002 in a replica of Howard Hughes’ 1935 speed plane, the H-1 Racer.
Whiteside’s flight in Utah came less than four weeks after his attempt to win the Reno National Championship Air Races were dashed by the crash that killed competitor Jimmy Leeward and 10 spectators. Whiteside had claimed the second-fastest qualifying time at the races in the P-51 Mustang fighter “Voodoo” that he flies for another race team.
At the time of the deadly crash, he was flying ahead of Leeward’s P-51, “Galloping Ghost.”
Whiteside’s day job is flying the corporate airplane owned by the Henry Trione and Connie Codding/Brad Baker families.
Whiteside said Tuesday’s 416-mph flight was witnessed and monitored by a representative of the National Aeronautic Association, who will now submit a report to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
In a phone conversation Tuesday afternoon from Elko, Nevada, Woodside credited the “aerodynamic cleanliness and horsepower” of his Yak and also “five and half years of caressing the airplane.”