Pineville, LA Chapter 614
members Ron Elliot, Bruce Underwood, J.W. French (right)
This past Sunday, J.W. French (EAA 226844)
departed Fort Myers, Florida, to begin his flight to re-create the late Sam
Burgess’ 1974 journey around the lower 48 states in an open-cockpit Acro
Sport. EAA first reported French’s flight in Chapter Hopping, from the
June 2008 issue of EAA Sport Aviation (page 86). As a result of that
story, French received an enormous response from EAA chapters and members
located along his route, many of whom provided open invitations of hangar space
and a place to stay. With encouragement from EAA Founder and Chairman Paul
Poberezny and EAA chapters throughout the country, French not only aims to
re-create Burgess’ historic flight, but also make a stop at Wittman Regional
Airport during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Here are summaries from his first
dispatches, sent to EAA via e-mail.
Note: Read the account of Sam Burgess’ 1974
trip around the United States at EAA's Sport Aviation magazine online
archive. Sam’s article, entitled “Spirit of Flight No. 3,”
appeared in the November 1974 issue beginning on page 70.
Stop 1: Jefferson Landings Airport (74FL) in
Supported by EAA Chapters 445 and 1427
Though he experienced scattered thunderstorms
along the route, French landed safely at Jefferson Landings Airport (74FL) in
Monticello, Florida on Sunday, June 15, for his first overnight stop. French
said he was fortunate to have taken the advice from his neighbors back home.
“I finally gave in to their advice and activated the XM WX Satellite Weather
on my Garmin 396. What a godsend,” he remarked. The folks from EAA Chapters
445 and 1427 greeted him with a hamburger cookout and a place to stay.
Stop 2: Pineville Municipal Airport (2L0) in
Supported by Jim and Patsy Hidalgo (EAA 824935, 824937)
French landed safely at Pineville Municipal
Airport (2L0) in Pineville, Louisiana, on Tuesday, June 17, where Jim and Patsy
Hidalgo (EAA 824935, 824937) greeted him. “Jim was a long-time friend of Sam’s
and was one of the groups that helped look after Sam at the end of his flight,”
French said. As for the flight between Florida and Louisiana, he added, “The
satellite weather was indispensable again.” J.W. said he encountered two
large thunderstorms between McComb, Mississippi, and Pineville, but a large 20
mile wide opening between them made for a pleasant flight. The next planned
stop is Liberty, Texas.
On behalf of all members, EAA wishes J.W. French
the safest, most venturesome trip! See you at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008!