Although the F.IV was never really used as a commercial airliner, it nonetheless performed important pioneering work in completing the first non-stop coast-to-coast flight across America, making Fokker a big name throughout the country.
The possibility of travelling from one ocean coast to the other had always been an important goal for American air transport. Even today, domestic airlines still have the requirement to fly their aircraft non-stop from coast-to-coast, for example New York - Los Angeles and San Francisco - Washington.
The inspiration to use the F.IV for such a flight came from the Army test pilot Lieutenant Oakley G. Kelly who had tested both Fokkers after their assembly. Kelly had had the idea for such an overland flight for some time, and testing the F.IV convinced him that the aircraft was suitable for the job.
He got permission from the Army and together with his fellow test pilot Lieutenant john A. Macready, began preparations. The aircraft had to be radically rebuilt for the flight. Extra tanks in the fuselage and wings increased the fuel capacity to almost 620 gallons. A special door allowed access from the cabin to the cockpit so that the pilots could relieve each other every six hours.
This was not entirely sufficient however. The matter of the pilot's seat being next to the engine meant that the aircraft could not be flown while the one pilot left the cockpit and the other took his place. To enable the aircraft to continue being piloted, a second set of flying controls with instrument panel were installed in the left side of the cabin. in addition, the view from the cabin was improved by fitting larger windows extending down to the cabin floor.
The lieutenants were also thankful for the fact that the F.IV could carry a much heavier load than the prescribed take-off weight of 8,400 lb. Even at 10,850 lb., the take-off and flying characteristics were kept within safe limits.
The endeavors of Kelly and Macready did not immediately achieve success. They made their first attempt on 5 October 1922. From Rockfield, San Diego in California,. they took off in the F.IV for New York. After being airborne for 35 hours, 18 minutes and 30 seconds, fog forced the pilots to abandon this attempt. Even so, a world endurance record would have been established had the necessary barograph been on board for the flight to be registered and officially recognized.
On 3 November the two pioneers tried again and this time the flight ended after 25 hours and 30 minutes in an emergency landing near Fort Harrison in Indianapolis. An engine failure, the result of a crack in the water jacket, was responsible.
Kelly and Macready had used milk and soup in a vain attempt to cool the engine which had become dangerously overheated. Before risking a third attempt, the officers made sure that they would improve on the existing officially recognized world endurance record.
On 16 and 17 April 1923, they remained airborne for 36 hours, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. With this flight they also established a distance record, a weight record and eight speed records over specific distances. The official observer was the man who, together with his brother, had established the first world record in aviation: Orville Wright.
Two weeks later, on 2 and 3 May, they made their third attempt, this time in the opposite direction: from New York to San Diego. This had the advantage that, after take-off, the heavily-laden F.IV did not immediately and laboriously have to climb to clear the mountains surrounding San Diego. The aircraft could now climb quite gradually. This trouble-free flight of 2,521 miles took 26 hours and 50 minutes. America was madly enthusiastic and thousands witnessed the arrival of the aircraft at San Diego.
The newspapers filled their columns for days with the event, although the makers' name Fokker was mostly concealed as the U.S government was not so keen on foreign products.
People referred mostly to the 'Army T-2'. The fact that the flights had been made by a product of Fokker did not prevent the aircraft from becoming a valued national asset. The F.IV was soon transferred to non-active service and given a place of honor in a museum. Today it is in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.
The dramatic flights failed to make Fokker the box office draw he had hoped and production of the F.IV did not continue beyond the two aircraft.