In 1969 the Daily Mail newspaper sponsored a Transatlantic Air Race and the RAF decided to enter two of their new Hawker Siddeley Harriers (XV741 and XV744) to be flown by test pilots, Squadron Leaders Tom Lecky-Thompson and Graham Williams.
The race was to attain the shortest time between the top of the London Post Office Tower and the top of the Empire State Building in New York, the Harriers making use of their vertical take-off and landing ability by operating from a coal yard near St Pancras railway station and a vacant lot at Bristol Basin on the East River, Manhattan.
Eight days before the start of the race Tom Lecky-Thompson flew XV744 (now in the Museum’s collection) to New York. On 5 May Tom, flying XV741 westbound achieved the shortest overall time for the 3,030 mile track between London and New York. Graham William’s eastbound XV744 was beaten into second place by a Royal Navy Phantom.
On Saturday 25 April, Tom Lecky-Thompson was reunited with XV744 when his family arranged a surprise visit to the Museum.