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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedJ.W. French Continues His Re-Creation Flight

Read about Stops 1 and 2
Read about Stops 3, 4 and 5

Read about Stops 6 and 7

Host Carlos Duenas and his Acro Sport Hurricane, UT
J.W. and members of Chapter 262 Visalia Airport, CA
Acro Sport hangared in the Flabob Chapter #1 meeting room.
Acro Sport safely in the hangar at Hurricane UT, Chapter 936

For the past week J.W. French (EAA 226844) has been flying through the southwestern United States, making stops at local airports and visiting EAA Chapters along the way. Dozens of individuals have shown their generous support—providing overnight arrangements, hangar space, meals, and overall camaraderie—as he continues his quest to re-create the late Sam Burgess' 1974 flight around the lower 48 states in an open-cockpit Acro Sport. 

Stop 8: Payson Airport (KPAN) in Payson, Arizona (Thursday, June 26, 2008)
Supported by Robert Henley (EAA 147076) of EAA Chapter 810

After parting ways with his overnight host, Allan Lerfold, in Casa Grande, Arizona, French landed safely at Payson Airport (KPAN). He once again reported apprehension because of flying over mountains, but said the winds and turbulence were not an issue. “The scenery going into Payson was spectacular,” he reported. “The air was choppy downwind at pattern altitude, but it smoothed out and I greased another one. Either landings at high altitudes are easier, or I’m finally getting the hang of the Acro Sport.”

Once landed, French was met by his host, Robert Henley. Henley owns an American Eagle replica that his father built from factory plans, as well as a 1947 Bonanza. In Payson, French and Henley visited Ron Ward (EAA 431528) who happened to be a long-time friend of Paul Cox, one of French’s neighbors back in Fort Myers, Florida. “It turns out Paul and Ron were hangar mates in Louisville, Kentucky,” French said. “I got Paul on my cell phone and they had a nice chat and became reconnected.” After staying overnight in Payson, French left for Eagles Roost Airpark (27AZ) located in Aguila, Arizona. “The pilots along the way have been great in giving me pointers to ease the discomfort of flying in the high desert over mountains,” French said. “This is grass roots aviation at its best.”

Stop 9: Eagles Roost Airpark (27AZ) in Aguila, Arizona (Saturday, June 28, 2008)
Supported by Monroe McDonald (EAA 106749)

“The flight from Payson to Eagles Roost was a short one, but challenging,” French reported after safely arriving at Eagles Roost Airpark (27AZ). He was met by his host, Monroe McDonald, a retired electrical engineer. “Monroe took me to Wickenburg, Arizona, and on the way I stopped to take a picture of the entrance sign to the abandoned airfield where Paul Poberezny received glider training during World War II.” French gathered for an ice cream social with Wickenburg chapter members, where he shared memories of the life of Sam Burgess. “I am still amazed at the number of people who knew and respected Sam,” he said. One of the chapter members had judged aerobatic contests with him and another had talked with him about the Allison turbine engine he used on his second Bucker Jungmeister.” French departed early the next morning for Hurricane, Utah.

Note: J.W. French has received a number of e-mails from people commending him on his mission to re-create the late Sam Burgess’ 1974 flight across the lower 48 states. The following is an e-mail from Evgeny Maksimov (EAA 794520) of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

Hello, sir!

As a lot of EAAers, I am cognizant of your mission. I am a 63-year-old Russian test pilot. Ten years ago I was studying at Boeing Field located at Galvin Flying Service, where I earned my FAA commercial certificate and instrument rating. My dear flight instructor, Joe Bennett, is still flying at 77 years old. I would just like you to know that a Russian is following you along your route. Good luck and safe flying!

Stop 10: General Dick Stout Field Airport (1L8) in Hurricane, Utah (Sunday, June 29, 2008)
Supported by Carlos Deunas (EAA 426638) and EAA Chapter 936

French landed safely at General Dick Stout Field Airport (1L8) and was met by his host, Carlos Duenas, and two other members of EAA Chapter 936. Carlos owns a homebuilt Acro Sport as well a 2000 Piper Archer and a two-seat Challenger light sport aircraft. French reported that Carlos and him had lunch in a resort town close to the Zion National Park and then took an automobile tour of the park. “The scenery was breathtaking,” he said. He then became acquainted with his overnight accommodations, which was an apartment in Carlo’s hangar at the airport. “He built a hangar on leased ground from the city ($300/year for 25 years). The rental rate is renegotiated at the end of the lease. I don’t know what the city officials in Hurricane, Utah, are drinking, but I would like to buy a case of it and give it to the Lee County Florida Port Authority that runs Page Field in Ft. Myers,” French said jokingly. The next morning he departed for French Valley Airport (F70) in Murrieta, California.

Note to readers (from J.W.): For those of you who have seen pictures of me throughout the trip wearing the same blue shirt with the Sam Burgess Memorial Junket logo in every picture, let me put your minds at ease. I am not wearing the same dirty shirt every day. My neighbor in Buckingham Airpark embroidered six of these shirts for the trip. I don’t have to make any decisions on what I’m going to wear each morning; I have a clean shirt every day!

Stop 11: French Valley Airport (F70) in Murrieta, California (Monday, June 30, 2008)
Supported by Jim Pyle (EAA 238579), Conrad Nordquist (414052) and EAA Chapters 494 and 1279

French landed safely at French Valley Airport (F70) and met Jim Pyle, the immediate past president of EAA Chapter 1, and his overnight host, Conrad Nordquist, who is a member of EAA Chapters 1 and 494. He enjoyed lunch at the airport restaurant, and then joined members of EAA Chapter 1279 to share his recollection of the life of Sam Burgess. “Some day I hope to be able to talk about my friendship with Sam without choking up,” he said. “So far I haven’t been successful.” After the meeting, the chapter adjourned to the airport ramp to view the aircraft that had flown in for the occasion. “The Acro Sport drew a large crowd, but the stars of the event were a highly polished aluminum Ryan STN and a newly completed Thorp T18 that had its first journey away from its test flight area,” he said. “We then visited the hangar where the chapter project Pietenpol is kept. The chapter president, Steve Williamson, is a master craftsman of wood. The project looks better than any piece of fine furniture I have ever seen.”

After the chapter meeting, French departed for Flabob Airport (RIR) in Riverside, California, following Conrad in his Glassair I RG. “Dropping into the basin where Flabob is located brings into play the smog that seems to hang in the area on a regular basis,” he said. “The tower operator at Riverside Airport couldn’t have been more cooperative in moving me through his airspace to put me on the left down wind for runway 24 at Flabob.” French expects to arrive in Visalia, California, the following day, as he continues his re-creation flight of the late Sam Burgess’ flight across the lower 48 states in an open-cockpit Acro Sport.

Stop 12: Visalia Municipal Airport (VIS) in Visalia, California (Tuesday, July 1, 2008)
Supported by Dan Eggleston (EAA 710152) and EAA Chapter 262

After enjoying the camaraderie of EAA Chapter 1 at Flabob Airport, French departed for Visalia Municipal Airport (VIS) to visit EAA Chapter 262. “Climbing out of Flabob I had to negotiate Cajon Pass, another test of the flatlander’s courage in dealing with large rocks,” French reported of his flight. “I finally climbed to 10,500 msl and got out of the turbulence and heat haze. It was so cool I had to close the cockpit vents for the first time.” He arrived safely in Visalia later that day, where Dan Eggleston (overnight host), Steve Dillard, and J.W. Mason greeted him at the airport. Chapter members gathered in a park pavilion later that day and enjoyed a “great meal that was topped off with key lime pie.” French departed Visalia the next morning to make his next stop in Fresno, California.

Stop 13: Sierra Sky Park Airport (E79) in Fresno, California (Wednesday, July 2, 2008)
Supported by Doug Betts (EAA 708651) and Tim Cone (EAA 374465)

French arrived safely at Sierra Sky Park Airport (E79) in less than a half hour from departure. He was greeted by Doug Betters and his overnight/hangar host Tim Cone. “After lunch I was given the royal tour of Sierra Sky Park, which is the oldest residential airpark in the U.S.,” he said. The airpark began in 1946 by Mr. Bill Smilie. His widow, Doris, has donated a tract of land to EAA Chapter 376 for the Bill Smilie Aviation Center, which will facilitate two aviation museums and youth aviation resource center. After the tour, French gave a short presentation on Sam Burgess. “I continue to be amazed by the people who had met Sam and/or know about his magnificent journey around the country in his first Jungmeister,” he said. The next morning, French will make his way to Tracy, California.

Note to readers: J.W. French is in need of overnight arrangements between Helena, Montana, and Alexander, Minnesota. If anyone would like to offer their resources for an overnight stay, please contact him at jwf11228@msn.com.


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