P-51 Voodoo Becomes Fastest Piston in the World

Steven Hinton Jr. raises the bar in 3 km speed category.

Steven Hinton piloted the highly-modified P-51 Mustang named Voodoo while breaking a world speed record.Pursuit Aviation

Steven Hinton, the exceptional pilot who has won the Unlimited Class in the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada, multiple times, added his name to the record books this weekend as he broke the speed record for an internal combustion engine-powered airplane, Class C-1e, on a 3 km closed course. Hinton was flying a highly-modified P-51 Mustang named Voodoo, the airplane he has raced in Reno for the past few years.

Over four laps, Hinton took Voodoo to an average speed of 531 mph, blowing the previous standing record away. The fastest lap was nearly 555 mph according to Pursuit Aviation, an aerial cinematography company that documented the flight. The previous record was set at 318 mph in 2012 by Will Whiteside Jr. in a Yak-3U named Steadfast. The FAI has posted Hinton’s record as preliminary for now.

The success was bittersweet, however, as the ultimate goal was to break the speed record over a 3 km closed course set in 1989 by Lyle Shelton in Rare Bear — a Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat. The FAI retired Shelton’s record after the organization made changes in the sporting code. While Hinton’s speed was slightly quicker than Shelton’s, had the rules not changed the record would have to beat by 1 percent, translating to 533 mph.

Steven Hinton is the son of Steve Hinton, a legendary pilot in his own right who held the 3 km speed record before Shelton, from 1979 to 1989. Hinton Sr. is the president of Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, California.