N1156H, a 1948 Sedan, has left its mark in the history books as the City of Yuma. In 1949, it set the endurance flight world record with an incredible 1124 hours (47 days) nonstop in the air – without ever touching the ground! How that was possible, you are asking yourself? Only through a fantastic team effort of countless dedicated people, in fact, almost an entire city!
Some time after the endurance record, N1156H left the state of Arizona and subsequently was upgraded to a 180 hp engine. In 1997, it was located in Minnesota, purchased, brought back to Yuma and then restored back to its 1949 condition and flown by a team headed by Jim Gillaspie, supported by the Jaycee foundation, the original sponsor from 1949.
In 1999, the 50th anniversary of the record flight was commemorated by a reenactment of the challenging refueling process (photos 01-04) at the Yuma airport. The City of Yuma was flown by Jim Gillaspie. The refueling car, an impeccable restoration by George Murdock of a Buick just like the one used for the record, was driven by Horace Griffen, the original driver and donator of the car, in 1949. Here is an interesting Article from 1999.
By the 60th anniversary, October 10th, 2009 (photos 05-17), the aircraft was not airworthy anymore, but nevertheless in great shape. Photo 09, shows the late Woody Jongeward (left), one of the two record setting pilots. Beside him stands Horace Griffen. In Video 01 Horace Griffen explains how the record flight was achieved.
On Friday, April 13th, 2013, the entire team's long-time wish and hope came true, when the Sedan City of Yuma found her permanent spot in the air: She was lifted onto pylons inside Yuma's City Hall, Arizona, USA, where she will be on display for future generations to see and enjoy. She will certainly always be a wonderful reminder of how the Yumans once teamed up to help the city overcome the postwar depression. (Photo 18)
Book recommendation: To learn in detail what it took to make the record flight possible, how the Sedan and its engine had to be modified and how the record changed the future for Yuma, we highly recommend you read "The Longest Flight – Yuma's Quest for the Future: Sixty Years Later". A fantastic and exciting book, worth every Cent! It is co-authored by Shirley Woodhouse Murdock (photo 17, seen signing the latest edition, sister of Bob Woodhouse, one of the 1949 record pilots) and the late James A. Gillaspie (photo 08, white T-shirt). The book can be ordered from Shirley Woodhouse Murdock directly, e-mail: shirleywmurdock (AT) yahoo.com
(This page last updated: 09/2013)
Click on the thumbnails to view the pictures in full size or to watch the video.
Photos © Verne Chism (01), Unknown (02-03, 18), Charles Whitehouse (04), Matthias Sieber (05-17)
Video © eaacasagrande