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
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
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, 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 said. "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 Run." [ANN Thanks Sarah Parke, National Museum of the
US Air Force for the story]