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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedPilot Takes Off on Cross-Country Tribute Flight

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 Monticello, Florida
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 Pineville, Louisiana
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!


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