Retired Abilene airman remembers globe-spanning flight
ABILENE, Texas - Retired Air Force Colonel James H. Morris piloted the first non-stop around-the-world flight of a jet aircraft in January 1957.
Most of the crew of the 1957 flight have passed away, but there is one crew member left: Anthony Dzirski, the navigator. It was the first time Morris and Dzirski have seen each other in over 20 years, and it brought Dzirski to tears.
"I didn't think I would see him on this earth again and now I am with him," said Dzirski.
Their flight was part of the "Operation Power Flite." Morris' aircraft, The Lucky Lady Three, was the lead plane.
"I had the job to do as the lead aircraft commander in charge," said Morris.
The flight took 45 hours and 19 minutes. They covered 24,325 miles, only refueling four times -- in mid air. They left the tarmac with 5 airplanes, but two had to drop out due to mechanical issues. The remaining three went on to finish the trip, landing back in California.
When they landed they were greeted by a host of people and all received the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Air Force also put them in Eisenhower's second inaugural parade.
In addition to the first jet flight around the world, Morris was also the co-pilot on the first plane flight around the world. The aircraft was a B50 propeller power plane and it took the crew 94 hours to circle the globe.