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Last Member of Historic Yuma Endurance Flight Team Dies

The final surviving member of the team that accomplished a record-breaking endurance flight in Yuma in 1949 has died.  He was part of the team that set a new record for 1,124 hours of continuous flight.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

During World War II, the military trained pilots in Yuma but closed down air fields after the war.  It was a hit to Yuma’s economy.  A small group of men cooked up the idea of an endurance flight to prove Yuma had 365 days of flying weather. 

Horace Griffen owned a car dealership in Yuma and volunteered to be the driver on the refueling runs for the endurance flight.  To pass the pilots fuel and other supplies, Griffen, or “Griff” as he was called, had to drive the car about sixty miles an hour parallel to the plane while another man took hold of the landing gear and held the plane steady. 

They proved their point and within two years, the Air Force set up a base which later became what is today Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma.

Greg Gardner, who knew Griffen and other members of the team, helped restore the plane, called The City of Yuma.  It now hangs from the ceiling of Yuma City Hall. 

“It was just amazing,” Griffen said of the record-breaking flight, “I mean, just sitting here talking about it now gives me goosebumps because of the history that is there.  And that’s why it kind of bothers me that there might not be that many people familiar with the story.”

Horace Griffen passed away October 11th, one day after the anniversary of the flight.  He was 96.