Air Racing Champion Steve Hinton Jr. took to the skies of Idaho over Labor Day weekend, flying the highly modified P-51 Mustang “Voodoo” to a speed of 531.53 mph, the fastest speed ever achieved in the world for a piston engine propeller driven airplane.
The average speed recorded by Hinton tops the 528.3 mph recorded by Lyle Shelton back in 1989, though Shelton’s record was officially retired due to changes of the sporting code by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Hinton Jr.’s official record falls within the sub-class for internal combustion engine planes with a weight of between 3,000-6,000 kg and eclipses Will Whiteside Jr.’s previous mark of 318.01 MPH achieved in 2012.Hinton originally planned to make the attempt on Aug. 28, 2017, and even took off in “Voodoo” for the attempt, but mechanical issues forced it back to the ground and into the hangar for maintenance.
Once the issue was identified and resolved, preparation was made to give it a go again on Sept. 2, 2017. As Hinton and his team grew hopeful after a series of productive test runs, the weather shaped up perfectly for the historic attempt and the “Voodoo” took off around 5:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time.
Flying four passes across a 3-kilometer course at an altitude of about 100 meters, Hinton turned in a top lap of 554.69 mph on his way to recording an average speed of 531.53 and setting the new mark.
Hot on his tail during the record attempt was aerial cinematography company Pursuit Aviation, which used a SHOTOVER F1 camera system to capture the successful record attempt from the sky. This was the first time that Pursuit Aviation used the SHOTOVER F1 camera system and its state-of-the-art 6-axis gyro stabilized setup, which is specifically customized for shooting objects at over 350 knots and under heavy G-loading, according to company officials.
The National Aeronautic Association, the U.S. representative of the FAI which certifies all aviation and space records in the world, was on-site in Idaho to witness the attempt at the record. The record is unofficial until the FAI ratifies it.
The “Voodoo” is owned by Bob Button and was sponsored by Joe Clark and Aviation Partners of Seattle. The aerodynamics for the wing modification were designed by Aviation Partners and The Winglet Guys. The record was achieved at Clark’s Ranch in a remote part of Central Idaho.
Class: “C” (Powered Aeroplanes)
Sub-class: “C-1e” (Landplanes: takeoff weight 3,000 to 6,000 kg)
Group: 1 (internal combustion engine)
Type of Record: Speed over a 3 km course
Performance: 531.53 mph
Date: Sept. 2, 2017
Pilot: Steven Hinton (USA)