Kent State Professor to Fly 1,670 Miles to Fund Annual Scholarship

Flight will help improve public understanding, awareness of general aviation and inspire students

This spring, 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 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 flights are unique because they are not planning to take a direct route to Wright Brothers Airport from the Kent State University 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 instructor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 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

“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 says. “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, 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.

"You can help to spread the word about the flight," says Murray. “Forward our Web address to someone whom 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, or 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 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

POSTED: Monday, February 6, 2012 03:33 PM
Updated: Saturday, December 3, 2022 01:02 AM
School of Journalism and Mass Communication