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Pair of Ohio pilots plan landing in every county in vintage ‘46 Pipers

May 1, 2012

SALEM - Two Ohio pilots plan to take off on a flight from Kent to the Wright Brothers Airport in Dayton on May 13, arriving there about two weeks later.

Something must be out of kilter because it only takes about three hours to make the 207-mile trip by car.

Even by small plane using the most direct route, it shouldn't take more than an hour and 15 minutes. So what's going on here?

First, they're trying to set some sort of record. Second, it's also a fund raiser and people will go to some interesting lengths to raise money.

The pilots, Joe Murray of Kent, and Ron Siwik of Chagrin Falls, will attempt to fly two 1946 Piper J3C-65 8F aircraft in what they are calling "the first, longest, probably the slowest and most peculiar flight to Wright Brothers Airport via all counties of Ohio in an antique aircraft."

Wanting to write a book about flying in Ohio, Murray, who teaches in the Kent State University School of Journalism, realized that he couldn't do it without first seeing as much of the state as possible from the air.

After speaking to students, he also figured the flight might be an opportunity to inspire support for a scholarship to send a child to college for the first time.

According to the website (, Murray's goal is to discover some great flying stories, help his students and encourage people to contribute to the scholarship.

They plan on taking off from Kent on May 13 and landing on airports in all 88 Ohio counties before reaching the Wright Brothers Airport in Dayton.

So what is the local connection?

Spokesperson Jennifer L. Kramer said in an email, "We are planning to land at 02G on Tuesday, May 15 around 12:45 p.m."

The 02G designates the Columbiana County Airport, just south of U.S. Route 30 in the southern part of the county.

"We will land at Youngstown Elser, 4G4, around noon on the same day. Weather can change this," Kramer added.

"Our whereabouts can be tracked online here:," she wrote.

Youngstown Elser Airport is on Sharrott Road in Beaver Township.

She said they will also have a producer on the ground (Amy Beitzel ) coordinating arrivals and departures and getting updates out to the web.

Murray is an instrument-rated private-pilot and his background includes training in educational psychology along with professional and academic career work in television as a director, writer, videographer and editor.

Siwik first soloed in 1967 and is a former U.S. military flight surgeon who served in Vietnam. He earned commercial, instrument, flight instructor airplane, flight instructor instrument, and multiengine ratings in four years at Ohio State University.

He is also carries single-engine seaplane, rotorcraft helicopter, and airline transport pilot to his list of pilot certificates and is an accomplished aerobatics pilot.

In 44 years of flying, he has accumulated more than 8,500 hours and in 2008, Siwik flew a Beechcraft Bonanza on a remarkable, 24,604-mile, around-the-world flight.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Piper Cub and as far as any Wright brothers' anniversary, it's the 100th anniversary of the death of Wilbur Wright, who died on May 30, 1912 at the age of 45.

According to a news release, Murray will carry a section of aircraft polyfiber fabric on-board to be signed by a representative from every airport to certify each landing.

Upon completion of the flight, the fabric will become part of the aircraft's historical record.

Flying at night is out because the antique Pipers don't have lights or even electrical systems. The planes are started by hand-spinning the wooden propellers on the 65-hp engines.

Murray says he loves the old airplane like a member of his family, and is realistic about its limitations. Though the J3 is endearing to any pilot who learned to fly in the last century, he says, "it is still a 66-year-old two-seat aircraft that is cramped, drafty and lacking in the creature comforts of a more modern cross-country airplane."

According to the website, the planes will head north from Kent and west along the north coast of Ohio and Lake Erie. At the Indiana line, they will turn around heading back to Ohio's border with Pennsylvania.

From there, they'll turn the airplanes around and fly west again-covering approximately 230 miles in a day and making a dozen landings, while slowly progressing south toward their final destination.

In addition to the signatures at each airport the polyfiber fabric will include this statement: "That on Sunday 13, May 2012, pilots, Joe Murray of Kent, Ohio and Ron Siwik of Chagrin Falls, Ohio did attempt to fly two 1946 Piper J3C-65 8F aircraft, from Andrew W. Paton Field in Kent, Ohio to Dayton, Ohio Wright Brothers Field via consecutive landings in all counties of Ohio, conveying themselves slightly more than 26 hours aloft over a distance of 1,670 miles. In so doing, they may claim ownership of the World Record for making the First Flight to Wright Brothers Airport via all of Ohio's 88 counties- and attain this most peculiar of accomplishments for the Birthplace of Aviation in the spirit of the 75th Anniversary of the Piper Cub."

They'll have until the route is completed and reviewed by Record Setter to learn if the flight will be acknowledged as one of its newest world records.

The flight will be tracked on the Internet and recorded on video and a portable GPS carried inside the aircraft.

Larry Shields can be reached at



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