New piston-engined world speed record
On 2 September Steve Hinton Jr set a new world speed record for pistonengined aircraft in the much modified P-51 Mustang Voodoo. The flight took place at Clarks Ranch, Idaho, where Hinton made four runs which averaged 531.53mph, beating the previous record of 528.3mph set in 1989 by Lyle Shelton flying Grumman Bearcat Rare Bear. Hinton’s fastest run was measured at 554.69mph. Steve’s father, also Steve, broke the same record in August 1979, reaching 499.018mph over the Nevada desert in the RR Griffon-engined, contrarotating propeller Mustang Red Baron. A month later he was seriously injured, and Red Baron destroyed, in a crash at Reno.
Steve Hinton Jr has flown Voodoo to three successive Unlimited class titles at the Reno Air Races, but for the world record attempt even more work was needed. Aerodynamic wing modifications were developed by sponsor Aviation Partners Inc using computational fluid dynamics to redesign wing aerofoils to reduce strong shock waves created at Mach 0.75-0.80. Hinton commented, “The airplane accelerated much faster to the high-speed realm… (I) saw a much faster airplane at 100 inches manifold pressure than I had ever seen before.” Aviation Partner’s Chief Executive Officer Joe Clark added: “We agreed to sponsor the record attempt because we felt we could add significant value. That appears to be the case. We used the same drag reduction methodology on the Mustang as we have used on the Boeing jetliners and numerous Falcon, Hawker and Gulfstream business jets to make them more efficient.”
Hinton Jr was unable to add a fourth win to Voodoo’s Reno titles. In the National Championship Air Races Gold Unlimited final on 17 September, long time rival and many times former winner P-51 Strega, flown by James Consalvi, reclaimed the title, having last won in 2015 in the hands of ‘Hoot’ Gibson. Strega covered the eight-lap pylon course at an average 481.34mph, less than half a second ahead of Voodoo which clocked 480.744mph. Both Mustangs lapped the rest of the field. Voodoo’s owners have decided to retire it from racing, but have not ruled out further speed record attempts.
Speed record success but no Reno win for Voodoo