PRESIDENT RICHARD M. NIXON - AUTOGRAPHED SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH CIRCA 1959 CO-SIGNED BY: COLONEL HOWARD C. "SCRAPPY" JOHNSON - HFSID 72627
VICE PRESIDENT NIXON CONGRATULATES TWO AIR FORCE OFFICERS, INCLUDING COLONEL
HOWARD C. "SCRAPPY" JOHNSON, FOR RECEIVING THE COLLIER TROPHY FOR THEIR
RECORD-SETTING FEATS IN THE F-104 STARFIGHTER
RICHARD NIXON and HOWARD "SCRAPPY" JOHNSON. Photograph signed: "Col. H.C. 'Scrappy'/Johnson" and "Richard Nixon" as Eisenhower's Vice President. B/w, 8x10. U.S. Air Force photograph. Mimeographed caption on verso. In full: "Vice President Richard Nixon congradulates (sic) Lt. Col. Howard C. Johnson center and Major Walter W. Irwin upon their receiving the Colliers Trophy 15 Dec 1959. The trophy is shared between the Air Force Officers and Mr. C.L. Johnson of Lockheed Aircraft Company who designed the F-104 'Starfighter' and Mr. Gerhard Neumann and Mr. Neil Burgress both of General Electric Company for the development of the J-79 turbojet engine which powers the airplane. Lt. Col. Johnson and Maj. Irwin were honored for their part in operationally proving the fighter. Lt. Col. Johnson by setting a straight away speed record of 1404 miles per hour and Major Irwin for establishing an altitude record of 91,243 feet." In May 1958, HOWARD C. "SCRAPPY" JOHNSON had broken the previous wold altitude record by nearly two miles when he piloted the F-104A Starfighter jet aircraft to 91,249 feet (not the 91,243 feet indicated in the caption) on a flight that lasted precisely 27 minutes. He had made six trial runs to 75,000 and 85,000 foot altitudes before lifting off at 9:40 a.m. for the record-breaking flight, which took place over Edwards Air Force Base, California. On December 14, 1959, the day before this photograph was taken, Johnson's record was broken by a F-104C Starfighter that climbed to an altitude of 103,395 feet. The Starfighter was the first aircraft to simultaneously hold official word records in speed, altitude and time-to-climb. Johnson, who was 38 years of age at the time, had been a fighter pilot during WWII and the Korean Conflict, and he would later become Director of Operations for the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing in Vietnam. Johnson, who flew over 100 missions over North Vietnam, was a co-founder and the first President of The River Rats (The Red River Valley Pilots Association), an association formed by military pilots to honor their fallen comrades. An inductee in the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame, Johnson flew over 7,000 hours in fifteen fighter planes. His autobiography, Scrappy: A Fighter Pilot's Story and Memoirs of a River Rat (co-written by retired U.S.A.F. Colonel Ian A. O'Connor), is set for publication in the fall of 2007. Just three months before this photograph was taken, RICHARD M. NIXON (1913-1994), the 36th Vice President of the U.S. (1953-1961), was called in to head the government when President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. Nixon, who also took over in June 1956, when Ike suffered from ileitis and in November 1957 after the President had a stroke, was an active Vice President, traveling thousands of miles around the globe on goodwill trips. Although he lost the 1960 election for President to John F. Kennedy, Nixon won the office in 1968 and served as 37th U.S. President from 1969 until August 1974, when he resigned in the face of the Watergate scandal. Nixon, like Johnson, was a veteran of WWII, serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific theater. During his presidency, Nixon succeeded in ending the fighting in Vietnam. Lightly creased at blank margins and corners, ¼-inch tear at upper right margin. Minor surface creases and scratches (not evident head on). Caption is blurred, but legible. Fine condition.
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