50th anniversary of significant USAF
mission remembered with painting, donation at the National Museum of
the U.S. Air Force
DAYTON, Ohio - Lt. Col.
(Ret.) Robert Burkhart, a pilot during Operation Sun Run, stands beside
"Schrek's CIN MIN on the SUN-RUN" by William S. Phillips
shortly after the painting was unveiled at the National Museum of the
U.S. Air Force on Nov. 27, 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Colonel Ray Schreckengost
At the Grand Canyon
on a SLAC Fly-In
By: Sarah Parke
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
11/30/2007 - DAYTON, Ohio -- On Nov. 27, 1957, at 6:59
a.m., six USAF pilots took off from Los Angeles and began what would be
called Operation Sun Run. On that day, three new transcontinental speed
records were established and the speed and range of the McDonnell RF-101C
was showcased. Years later, this mission would be remembered not as a
significant contribution to war, but as a significant peacetime achievement
for a growing Air Force.
Almost to the exact minute, 50 years later, one of the pilots and
several family members of those involved in Operation Sun Run gathered at
the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to present a painting
commemorating the anniversary of this historic event. The painting, titled
"Schrek's CIN MIN
on the SUN-RUN" by noted aviation artist William S. Phillips, depicts
then-Capt. Ray Schrecengost's RF-101C,
nicknamed CIN MIN, flying above the clouds.
The painting brought back many memories for Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert
Burkhart, one of the pilots during the mission. "I was keyed up the
night before the flight," said Burkhart who was a captain at the time.
"I probably got less sleep than most nights."
Burkhart said he was only doing his duty and he didn't realize how
significant Operation Sun Run would be. "I never thought it would be
remembered 50 years later."
Schrecengost's RF-101C CIN MIN was named
for his two daughters: Cindy and Mindy. "I didn't know I would be a part
of history," said Schrecengost's
daughter, Cindy Miller, during the unveiling ceremony. "I
just thought I was the 'CIN' part of the name."
Miller, who was only 5 years old at the time,
remembers the day very well. "Mom told me to look to the left because
my father would be flying in soon. I remember Dad landing and my sister,
who was only 2 years old, being lifted up to the cockpit to say hi to him.
I was so awestruck."
Miller's father (Colonel Ray
Schrecengost), who retired from the Air Force as a
colonel, was selected as lead pilot during Operation Sun Run. He
established three new transcontinental speed records from Los Angeles to
New York (beating John Glenn's record), from New York to Los Angeles and
round trip. His record fell shortly thereafter when his time was bettered
by other pilots on the Sun Run.
Schrecengost's brother, Sam, also in attendance at the ceremony,
said it was very difficult to get anything out of Ray about the mission
before he passed away. "My brother wasn't about awards or
records," he explained. "He was a team person. Getting everyone
involved was his way of passing credit back."
The original RF-101C CIN MIN, piloted
by Schrecengost, is on
display in the Modern Flight Gallery at the museum. A giclee print of the
painting will now be placed in front of the aircraft and next to the
group's speed trophy.
"With this year being the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Air
Force, we believe this donation is truly fitting as it depicts a
significant event in Air Force history," said museum senior curator
Terry Aitken during the unveiling ceremony. "It's also fitting to be
displayed in the museum. Our mission is to be 'the keeper of their stories'
and this painting truly enhances the story, the history and the
significance of the people who were a part of Operation Sun
NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more
information, contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937)
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more
information, contact Sarah Parke with the National Museum of the United
States Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1376.
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