Famed Flight To Be Retraced, With Austin Hatcher Foundation Along For The Ride

Friday, June 06, 2014

It’s time to test the vintage 1949 Piper PA-11, which will be in the air again, with a man named Chris Nesin at the controls and his wife April as his navigator. After this weekend’s inaugural test flight near Chatsworth, Ga., the goal will be mirroring a fabled 1966 cross-country journey made in the Piper by two teenagers named Rinker and Kern Buck.

That journey – from New Jersey to California – yielded a memoir by Rinker Buck, 31 years later, which is beloved by small-plane enthusiasts, entitled Flight of Passage. And so this new flight, scheduled for June 22-July 2 from Lock Haven, Pa. to Riverside, Calif., comes with a revised name: “Retracing the Flight of Passage.

It also comes with a goal: helping raise awareness for the Chattanooga-based Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.

 “We thought it would just be amazing to partner with the Foundation on this trip,” said Ms. Nesin, a pediatric psychologist with the foundation. 

The Piper, professional pilot Mr. Nesin said, “just kind of fell into my lap. I had purchased a similar airplane which I flew for many years and around 2011 I started looking for another one with a little more power. One day I just happened to see this Piper in some classified ads.”

Mr. Nesin called the owner with an offer. Over the years he said he had come to cherish the Flight of Passage tale.

The Buck Brothers’ journey was deeply personal and the Nesins’ will be no less so, due to their love of flying and their commitment to spreading the word about the good works of the Foundation, said officials.

Mr. Nesin said he is awaiting FAA paperwork that will provide clearance for a test flight on Sunday. “After that,” he added, “I’ll have a week-and-a-half, with my mechanic right there, to work the bugs out before the trip.”

Live updates and overall progress of the Nesins’ flight will be available at www.SuperCub.org. The enthusiast site is sponsoring the venture.

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