"And that's how we start our show ladies and gentlemen, right here in Meridian at the Diamond Anniversary Event," blared over the grounds of Meridian's Key Field Saturday morning.
Crowds were welcomed with a warm greeting into Key Field to honor Al and Fred Key. At 12:32 p.m. on June 4th, 1935, the brothers lifted off the grass strip of Meridian's airport in an effort to break the world record for sustained flight. the Key brothers devised a workable method of air-to-air refueling in order to attempt this feat. With planes flying through the blue skies in all directions, Al and Fred Key were honored for their extraordinary accomplishment of 27 days of continuous flight. During this day of acknowledgment, Fred's son, Fred Key Junior, also paid his own tribute.
"I'm pretty honored. Daddy flew that airplane to Washington. We rebuilt it up here. Daddy flew it to Washington. They told him to put it in a truck but they have a restoration facility at the Smithsonian. He said ,'No, it won't fly by itself and I want it there'," remembers Fred Key Jr.
Family members are surely proud of this great feat. Since the brothers took this record setting flight from Meridian, the city also has reason to be proud.
Today we are celebrating two hometown heroes, Fred and Al Key. And we are honored to have their family with us here as we celebrate with the Diamond Anniversary of their historic flight," says Mark McDonald, the Chief Administrative Officer for the city of Meridian.
Having the opportunity to honor the Key Brothers and their accomplishment is a privilege for the city of Meridian. In order to do that properly, a lot of hard work was put into the show.
"Well we've been working on this event for several months, so we've kind of reached the pinnacle here at the opening ceremony. And it's really a privilege to be able to participate in this, to celebrate the Key Brothers' endurance flight," explains Bo Pittman, the Air Director of the air show.
The record they established in their 27 days in flight totaled 653 hours and 34 minutes. It remains unbroken in conventional flight.