Boeing Dreamliner broke jet stream speed record in 2019

Published 5:30 am Saturday, May 22, 2021

EDITORS NOTE: Don Lee is taking a break from his column this week. The following is a piece that originally was published on Jan. 23, 2019.
Before we dig into information about a historical airplane, I thought you would be interested in a jet stream story.
On Feb. 19, 2019, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner flying over Pennsylvania on the way to New York encountered a 231-mph jet stream, which made it possible to fly to a new speed record for the plane, 801 mph.
Wiley Post, the one eye pilot of the 1930s who broke several speed records, discovered jet streams, but no one would believe him.
They were confirmed near the end of WWII with the B-29s flying over Japan.
I have always been fascinated by the amazing planes of WWII, which were a product of the crisis of producing planes to best the Nazi’s superior air force.
One of these planes was the RAF Hurricane.
It was a slower plane than the famous Spitfire and was the primary fighter during the early days of WWII.
It had eight machine guns that could cut a Nazi bomber in half.
Back in the 1960s, I was in a Charleston hospital getting a hernia repaired and one of my roommates was a WWII pilot by the name of Gruenburg.
He had an interesting story.
When the Nazi took over France, this guy defected to England. Among other talents, he was a pilot who volunteered to fly for the RAF.
He was trained him to fly the Hurricane and he flew mostly recon flights over France.
He was fortunate in that he was never shot down.
He was also a naval architect trained to design ships.
He asked some of the American GIs where would be a good place to get a job designing and building ships, someone told him Charleston.
After the war, he used his meager funds to buy a ticket to Charleston, but it was West Virginia, not South Carolina.
He arrived in Charleston nearly broke, so he found a job with the West Virginia highway department and spent the rest of his career building roads rather than ships.
There were over 14,500 Hawker Hurricanes built for use in the WWII.
They had the Merlin Rolls-Royce engine rated at 1,200 hp. One of the differences between them and the Spitfires were the fuselage.
It had steel tubes with wooden formers covered by linen fabric.
A cannon shell could pass right thorough and not explode.
Battle damage was easily repaired right on the airfield.
Of course, one of disadvantages, since the fabric and wood were combustible, in event of a fire, it would burn very quickly.
The Spitfire got more publicity in the Battle of Britain during August and September 1940, but the Hurricane was responsible for 55 percent of the combat victories.
The Spitfire would take on the Luftwaffe fighters and leave Hurricanes to concentrate on the bombers.
The role of the RAF in Battle of Britain was eloquently described by Winston Churchill in a speech before the Parliament he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”

Don Lee, a pilot flying out of Lawrence County Airport since 1970, has been in charge of equipment and grounds maintenance for the last several years. He can be reached at

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