Cold War Era

World Speed Record Aircrew reunited with legendary Phantom ‘Black Mike’ 30 years on

On Feb. 24, 1988, RAF Phantom ‘Black Mike’ set a world record for the fastest time between John O’Groats and Land’s End of 46 minutes and 44 seconds at an average speed of 772.19mph

As well as being the centenary year of the Royal Air Force, 2018 is also the 30th anniversary of one of its record setting achievements.

On Feb. 24, 1988, an RAF aircraft (McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom XV582) of 43(F) Squadron set a world record for the fastest time between John O’Groats and Land’s End of 46 minutes and 44 seconds at an average speed of 772.19mph.

30 years on from this achievement, the British Phantom Aviation Group (BPAG) reunited the aircrew from that day with the aircraft in order to celebrate this anniversary. This event took place at RAF Cosford on Aug. 12, 2018.

Paul Wright, Chairman of the BPAG, commented-

“We are proud and happy to finally bring back together XV582, pilot John Brady and navigator Michael Pugh for the first time since their record setting flight, over 30 years ago. To hear their recollections and stories of that day first hand was truly wonderful and inspiring.

“Today’s event is made more poignant as it takes place during a year that has seen the aircraft displayed to the public once again and its future secured. We would like to thank RAF Cosford and, in particular, WO Steve Brown for providing us with the facilities to host today’s event, which will be the final appearance of the aircraft at Cosford before it moves to a new home”

XV582 is a K model variant (designated FG.1 in UK service) of the F-4 Phantom that was delivered to the RAF in May 1969 and served with 43(F), 111(F) Squadrons and finally 228 OCU. The aircraft is known as ‘Black Mike’ due to its unique paint scheme. As well as setting the speed record for John O’Groats – Land’s End, the aircraft was also the first Phantom to reach 5000 flying hours and was used for display by 228 OCU until retirement.

The aircraft is currently owned by GJD Services and managed by the British Phantom Aviation Group, who performed the dismantling and transport of the aircraft from Scotland to RAF Cosford and the subsequent restoration in time for temporary display at the 2018 Cosford Airshow. The aircraft is due to move to a new home at St Athan, South Wales, in the coming months.

Photo credit: John Kendal, Ian G. Topham / British Phantom Aviation Group and Mike Freer – Touchdown-aviation via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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