Ohio Air National Guard pilot wins cross-country jet race
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann, Ohio Army National Guard Historian
“Slow F-84 Jet Wins Dash Across U.S.” was the newspaper headline that announced Lt. Col. James Poston of the 166th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron as the winner of the 1955 Ricks Memorial Trophy race that took place on July 2, 1955. Poston raced the 1,945 miles from Ontario, Calif. to Detroit in 3 hours, 32 minutes at an average speed of 546 miles per hour in a F84E “Thunderjet.”
A veteran of World War II and Korea, Poston was the commander of the 166th FIS at the time of the race. The then-35-year-old pilot made one stop for fuel during the race in Lincoln, Neb. “I got in and out of there as fast as I could and didn’t even take time out for coffee,” Poston told the United Press. Poston was one of 22 pilots who competed in 1955, with 19 finishing the race.
The Ricks Memorial Trophy Race began in 1954 and was exclusively for Air National Guard pilots. The race was named for Maj. Gen. Earl T. Ricks, an Arkansas native and former deputy chief of the National Guard Bureau. By the mid-1960s the race ended, but the trophy is still awarded annually for outstanding airmanship demonstrated by Air National Guard aircrew members.