World air speed record

Maj. Gen. Eldon “Al” Joersz, USAF pilot retired, front, and Lt. Col. George “GT” Morgan, USAF retired reconnaissance systems officer, sit inside the cockpit of the SR-71 aircraft they flew when setting the world absolute speed record for jet-powered aircraft on July 28, 1976. The two were at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, Georgia for the 40th anniversary of the historic flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton/Released)

A pilot with the world air speed record will talk to a group of local military officers in Belton next week.

Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Eldon “Al” Joersz, 77, flew an SR-71A Blackbird 61-7958 with Lt. Col. George T. Morgan Jr. on July 28, 1976, at Beale Air Force Base in California — setting an air speed record of 2,193 mph during the flight.

Eldon, a Bell County resident described in a news release as “the fastest man on Earth,” will speak at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 21, at the Central Texas chapter meeting of the Military Officers Association of America. The event is set in the basement conference room of The Gin at Nolan Creek, 219 S. East St. in Belton.

“MG Joersz will be the CenTex chapter MOAA’s guest speaker on setting the world’s speed record, which he still holds today,” the organization said in the release. “All are welcome to join us and enjoy a tasty meal, camaraderie and to hear the fascinating speaker talk about his world speed record.”

During their historic flight, Joersz and Morgan, the reconnaissance systems officer, broke the previous record set by Daniel Andre and Robert L. Stephens at 2,070 mph.

“We never dreamed, I guess we never gave it much thought, how long the record would last,” Joersz told an Air Force public affairs writer in 2016.

Joersz was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force after graduating from North Dakota State University in 1966. He also received his master’s degree from Auburn University in 1978.

He retired from the military in 1997 after 31 years of service.

In the Air Force, Joersz held several positions, including instructor for the T-38 Talon and SR-71. As a pilot during the Vietnam War, he logged over 450 combat hours in an F-105 Thunderchief, according to a news release.

He commanded the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron and two wings: the 410th Bomb Wing at Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan and the 4th Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina.

His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, among others.

Those planning to attend the MOAA meeting are asked to make a reservation at the group’s website, www.centexmoaa.org.

The cost of the luncheon is $15 per person.

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