Thanks to the Wright Brothers, Ohio is known around the world as the Birthplace of Aviation. The invention of the airplane is one of America's greatest stories. Ever since Wilbur Wright’s 59-second flight on December 17, 1903,
aviators have been setting records for speed, altitude, distance and
13, 2012, two pilots, Joe Murray and Ron Siwik, will set out on a journey to
the place where aviation began—producing a documentary video and book about the experience and the people they meet along the way. They will be joined by colleague and award-winning photographer Gary Harwood and a group of enthusiastic and talented students from Kent State University. This year celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the Piper J3 Cub, an airplane
that is revered in aviation circles for having
taught nearly a half-million pilots to fly during World War II.
FROM THE PILOTS AND CREW—PARTNER AND PLEDGE
We would like to partner with you to produce the documentary and book—and invite you to also help us establish a world record for the First, Longest, Slowest and Most Peculiar Flight to Wright Brothers Airport Ever Made in an Antique Airplane.
RecordSetter believes everyone can be the world's best at something, and we like the spirit of that idea—it makes it possible for all of us to participate, be inspired and raise the bar of human achievement. Pilot Ron Siwik actually flew an airplane solo around the world in 2008, so he knows something about impossible challenges.
You will provide an opportunity of a lifetime for our students, help them to discover some truly amazing stories and people, and gain confidence and real-world experience in the process.
A STRANGE WAY TO GET TO DAYTON
We will attempt to fly two bright yellow
1946 Piper J3 Cubs on a 1,670 nautical mile journey from Kent in the northeast, to Dayton in the southwest via all of Ohio's
88 counties. No one has ever done it, and—there is only one 75th anniversary. How much longer these airplanes will continue to fly is anyone's guess. The journey is not without a number of particular challenges.
FLYING IN OHIO
Spring weather in Ohio can include thunderstorms and torrential rain showers that turn country airfields into swamps. The overcast skies here are legendary and sometimes produce freezing fog, ice, and 45-degree temperature swings on the same day. Occasionally there is sunshine and blue sky, but invariably, it is accompanied by strong gusts and crosswinds that make flying and landing a J3 difficult. We expect Ohio skies will not disappoint us as we traverse the four corners of the entire state.
IT IS NOT JUST THE WEATHER
The Piper airplanes we will fly were designed in 1937. The J3 Cub is a tube-and-fabric flying machine that lacks the creature comforts of more modern aircraft. You must spin the propeller by hand to start its small engine. The cockpit is cramped and drafty—even with the door and window closed. It has only the most basic analog flight instruments. The pilot sits in a sling and flies from the back seat to help balance the weight of the engine and small fuel tank. And—the airplane is slow. So slow, that cars on the highways below can frequently overtake you in flight. A determined headwind can reduce forward progress to the speed of a bicycle. If strong enough, the airplane will cease to move forward at all.
IT IS NOT REALLY ABOUT US
We expect to spend more than 26 hours aloft on the route. Eight days in the air. This is our no-wind estimate. But of course, there will be wind. We also expect to spend time on the ground with some amazing people we haven't met yet.
Ohio is home to an incredible cross section of aviators and aviation enthusiasts. The weekend flyers, commercial freight dogs and flying farmers are here. The restorers, crop dusters, mechanics, parachute packers, blimp-, balloon- and glider-drivers are here, too. General aviation aircraft based in Ohio are hauling cargo and passengers, towing banners and flying medical rescue. There is a network of private and commercial pilots here who volunteer to transport relief supplies to disaster areas, save adopted animals from kill shelters and deliver young leukemia patients for regular treatments at distant hospitals.
With a little luck and good weather, we'll land at Wright Brothers Airport before the end of May.
Your support will help us to fund more than a year's worth of research, equipment, fuel and location production with our students to complete the documentary video and book.
For more information on the flight route, and expected arrival times in each county, see the project web site: Lost In Oscar Hotel. You can also track the flight live as it unfolds across the state.
In case you are wondering, there isn't an actual "Oscar Hotel." The two words are "pilot-speak" for Ohio's abbreviation as it might be transmitted via radio using the FAA's phonetic alphabet.
As for being lost, well, that is another story—and we expect it will be a good one.