Ohio Professor to Fly 1,670 Miles to Fund Annual ScholarshipPosted Dec. 16, 2011
In spring 2012, two Piper J3 Cubs will set out on a journey to the place where aviation began. It will be the first flight to Wright Brothers Airport via all of Ohio's 88 counties and will honor the 75th anniversary of the airplane that taught nearly a half-million pilots to fly.
Joe Murray, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) at Kent State University, will pilot a Piper J3 Cub while Ron Siwik, a former U.S. military flight surgeon who served in Vietnam, will join the flight piloting a second Piper Cub.
Murray and Siwik's flight is unique however, because they are not planning to take a direct route to Wright Brothers Airport from Kent State's Andrew W. Paton Airport. Instead, they intend to fly consecutively from Kent to Dayton via all of Ohio's 88 counties—a distance of 1,670 miles—and no one has ever done it.
Murray and co-author Gary Harwood, an award-winning photographer and JMC instructor, will produce a book and documentary video about aviation in Ohio and create an annual scholarship to help disadvantaged families send a child to college for the first time. The team will also document their journeys online at http://www.lostinoscarhotel.com.
"A few gallons of fuel at each stop will help keep the airplane in the air, and a few dollars from enough people in each county will establish a scholarship fund to help families send a child to college," Murray said. "No donation is too small, and all contributions will be deeply appreciated. Our goal is to try to raise a minimum of $500 from individuals and organizations in each of Ohio's 88 counties."
One scholarship contributor from each county will join Murray in the J3 for a flight at his/her local airport. Plus, all contributions are tax deductible when made to the Kent State University Foundation.
The flight is expected to depart on May 13, 2012, weather permitting. The aircraft will spend about 26 hours aloft over eight consecutive days. Weather delays and time spent on the ground at each airport to research stories, record video, audio and photographs will increase the time overall to about 14 days.
To support the flight:
"You can help to spread the word about the flight," Murray said. "Forward our Web address to someone who you think might like to help. Share the flight information on Facebook. Encourage family and friends in your community to come out to the airports for a visit and get a photo with the J3 when we land. Share a flying story with us for the book."
According to Murray, even something as simple as clicking the Facebook "like" button at the bottom of the Web pages, or leaving a comment on the flight blog is very important to help him to measure overall interest and support for the project and general aviation.
The team is hosting an online raffle to cover expenses for this record flight in the historic 1946 Piper J3 Cubs. Donate $5 for each drawing entry to win an authentic vintage leather B-15 Flight Jacket from US Wings valued at $395. Enter through the secure site at http://tinyurl.com/flightjacket.
About the book:
Murray tells his students that, "Aviation is full of good character—and also good characters," a deliberate reference to the fact that there are many interesting people and stories to be found in aviation.
His students write for the online magazine Stories That Fly and gain valuable experience while learning how to become better digital storytellers. Not one to shy away from practicing what he preaches in the classroom, this book project provides the opportunity and inspiration for the record-establishing flight. Murray and Harwood will collect photographs and stories where ever the airplane lands in Ohio.
With a wry sense of humor, Murray refers to this fortnight of adventure as the "Lost in Oscar Hotel" flying book tour. He asks, "Who else do you know would fly for so long to Dayton when you could walk there in half the time?"
The "Oscar Hotel" reference, by the way, is "pilot-speak"—derived from how Ohio's abbreviation, OH, would be communicated via an in-flight radio transmission using the Federal Aviation Administration's phonetic alphabet.
About the pilots and authors:
Murray was trained as an educational psychologist and spent much of his professional and academic careers working in television as a director, writer, videographer and editor. Television programs and documentaries Murray produced have been recognized with numerous industry awards including three Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences‐Cleveland. He created Stories That Fly, an online magazine recognized as one of the top ten innovative community news ventures in the United States by the Institute for Interactive Journalism at American University.
Siwik has been flying for more than 43 years and holds an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate and also Flight Instructor (CFII) ratings in single- and multi-engine airplanes, seaplanes and helicopters. He is an accomplished aerobatics pilot who flies a Pitts Special S1 single-seat biplane. In 2008, he flew a Beechcraft Bonanza on a remarkable 24,604-mile, around-the-world solo flight.
Harwood has been a photographer for Kent State University for more than 24 years and chief photographer since 1987. He teaches Visual Storytelling for Kent State University. Harwood is the co-author and chief photographer for the award-winning book, Growing Season, The Life of a Migrant Community, which celebrates the work and play of Mexican American and Mexican migrant families in Hartville, Ohio.
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